Boris Johnson warns that Russian victory in Ukraine would be ‘absolutely disastrous’

Written by Javed Iqbal

Speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” hours after Russian missiles hit Kiev and smashed what had been relatively quiet in the Ukrainian capital, Johnson urged Americans, Britons and others in the West to maintain determination. in punishing Moscow, despite the impact the war has had on global oil prices.

“I just want to say to the people of the United States that this is something that America historically does and must do, and that is to stand up for peace and freedom and democracy,” Johnson said. “And if we let Putin get away with it, and just annex, conquer significant parts of a free, independent, sovereign country, which is what he is ready to do … then the consequences for the world are absolutely catastrophic.”

Johnson joins other G7 leaders in the Bavarian Alps this week for talks centered on the conflict in Ukraine, which has become a escalating conflict as it enters its fifth month.

Leaders are expected to discuss new ways to punish Moscow, including a ban on new gold imports from Russia, as US President Joe Biden announced on Sunday. But what hangs over the summit is whether the West can maintain its will to punish Putin in the midst of sky-high energy prices – and the political backlash that the rise has caused for leaders at home.

Johnson, who has traveled to Kiev twice to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said it would set a dangerous precedent if Russia were to succeed in its invasion.

“You can see the consequences, the lessons that will be learned,” he said. “That is what is ultimately catastrophic, not only for democracy and for the independence of countries, but for economic stability.”

The cost to Western nations of defending Ukraine – including billions of dollars in US security assistance – is “a price worth paying for democracy and freedom,” Johnson said.

The G7 summit has provided a kind of refuge for Johnson, who is facing severe political headwinds back home in Britain. The fallout from the “Partygate” scandal – in which Covid lockdown busting events were held in Downing Street – continues to resonate, and questions about Johnson’s leadership has only been intensified even as he has said he is interested in seeking a third period.

Last week, Johnson suffered a blow to his authority after his Conservative party lost two parliamentary by-elections in a single night. Still, the prime minister has so far resisted calls for change in his political approach, saying recently that he would not undergo a “psychological transformation.”

In Germany, Johnson tried to frame his problems as a sign that democracy was working when Tapper asked him about the cascade of criticism.

“I think the great thing about democracy is that leaders are under scrutiny. And I have, you say, I’ve got things going – it’s a good thing. I got people on my case, I got people arguing, “he said.

And he used Putin, who exists in a largely frictionless political environment, as an example of how leaders in anti-democratic systems can exercise power.

“Do you really think Vladimir Putin would have launched an invasion of another sovereign country if he had had people to listen to, properly arguing if he had had a committee of backers?” asked Johnson.

When it comes to American democracy, Johnson was similarly bullish – despite the violent attempt to overthrow it on January 6, 2021. He refused to blame former President Donald Trump, with whom he cultivated a close relationship: “I’m gonna take the fifth on this,” he said, adding, “In principle, we should not talk about each other’s domestic politics. It’s for the people of the United States.”

Scenes of violent chaos at the American capital that day shocked Americans and the world. But Johnson insisted that the breach did not constitute the downfall of American democracy.

“I think the reports of the death of democracy in the United States are gross, grossly exaggerated. America is a shining city on a hill for me, and it will continue to be so,” he said, pointing to Biden’s efforts to unite West as proof of a still functioning system.

“I think the mere fact that Joe Biden has gone up on the plate the way he has done shows that America’s instincts are still very much in the right place,” he said.

Still, Johnson acknowledged that the violent Capitol riots alerted observers abroad.

“There were some weird and kind of unattractive scenes,” he said.

“Strange?” asked Tapper. “People died.”

“I mean, looking at it from the outside, it was pretty weird,” Johnson said. “But I do not believe that American democracy is under serious threat. Far from it. I continue to believe that America is the greatest global guarantor of democracy and freedom.”

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Javed Iqbal

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