Full Boris Johnson interview – Ukraine, ‘America Extraordinary’ and whether he will return | Political news


Boris Johnson has shown his focus on the war in Ukraine since stepping down as prime minister.

In an exclusive interview for Sky News Ukraine: A Modern Warfare ProgramMr Johnson spoke about the war, Vladimir Putin, the West’s response, his successor and his admiration for Joe Biden.

However, he declined to expand on the circumstances surrounding his departure this summer.

Mr Johnson resigned as prime minister in July – and returned to the back seats in September after Liz Truss became the new prime minister.

A lot has happened in the world of politics since then – he’s had two successors and the economy has gone into freefall, but his focus remains Ukraine.

“Tipping point” for the world

On whether President Putin could use a nuclear weapon in Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, Mr Johnson said he “don’t think he will”.

“I think it would be crazy to do that,” he said.

“I think what would happen is that he would present Russia’s resignation from the club of civilized nations immediately. It would be a total disaster for his country.

“So the current economic punishment that the West has been able to inflict would be massively intensified.

“Russia would be placed in a kind of cryogenic economic freeze, and I think it would lose a lot of the middle ground of tacit global acquiescence that it had.

“He’s also going to crucially lose Chinese patronage and especially in his own country, I think you would trigger an absolutely hysterical reaction. So I don’t think that’s an option.”

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Putin ‘would be crazy’ to use nuclear weapons

He added that there “should be some response” from the West.

“I think this is a critical moment for the world, and I think this is a pivotal moment. It’s a turning point,” he added.

“And I think the danger is that we try to compromise and find some kind of deal, a dirty deal with Putin, try to encourage the Ukrainians to swap some of their territory, which will only encourage Putin to make new aggressions.

“The price for standing firm and continuing to support Ukraine is absolutely immense because for the first time in decades we have shown that we truly believe in democracy and freedom and that we are truly willing to support and these values ​​in Europe.

“So a Ukrainian victory could be an absolute turning point for the world.”

America is ‘crucial’

The former prime minister hailed President Biden’s support for Ukraine, but expressed concern that Republicans would take control of Congress if they win the upcoming midterm elections.

“I think it’s very important that America has been amazing,” he said.

“Joe Biden has been absolutely wonderful and people might not expect me to say that, but I think America, as so often, has been massively surprised on the upside.”

US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chat during the North Atlantic Council Session meeting with other heads of state during the NATO summit at the IFEMA arena in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / Pool

US Republicans have said that if they take power in Congress after the midterm elections, there will be no “blank check” for Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s true. I saw that’s what Kevin McCarthy said the other day.

“I think actually when you talk to individual Republicans, they see the vital importance of this fight,” he said.

He added that “you must always be” worried that US support may decline.

“It’s a lot to ask of any country, especially in tough economic times, the Americans have been fantastic.”

Does he regret losing his job?

Mr Johnson refused to be enticed by having to step down as Prime Minister, opting instead to focus on how there has been “absolutely seamless continuity of policy” on Ukraine.

“As tempting as it may seem, the most important thing is not to focus on me or my political career, but to focus on what matters,” he added.

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Does Boris Johnson regret losing power?

UK will continue to support Ukraine ‘fully’

The former prime minister said he believed the British government, whoever was in power, would continue its strong support for Ukraine.

He said Rishi Sunak had “a great conversation the other night with Volodymyr Zelensky and we will continue to support Ukraine and make sure we give it everything it needs.”

And he doesn’t think a future British government will try to persuade Mr Zelensky to broker a deal with Russia.

“I would passionately oppose that and just for that reason I don’t think it’s happening, but I just don’t think it’s realistic.

“Because there is no deal that Zelensky can make. There is no deal that Putin is offering.

“It’s not like he’s saying, give me the land bridge, Crimea and Donbass and your problems are over. No, no, no.

“He is still committed to the total destruction of an independent European democracy, and in these circumstances you simply cannot negotiate and I don’t think any UK government will.”

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak
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Boris Johnson said Rishi Sunak had a great chat with Volodymyr Zelenskyy the other night

Defense expenditure

Mr Johnson had pledged to spend 3% of GDP on defence, but Rishi Sunak has so far not committed to it, but he has meetings this week on it.

He didn’t go that far this time.

But even with the economic constraints the UK is currently under, the UK “will continue to be very supportive and very generous”.

When asked if the government should commit to 3%, he replied: “It’s for our future.

“I think I pointed out that under our current commitments we’re already at 2.4%, we’re going to continue at 2.5% with AUKUS and Net Gas and the combat air system, we’re going to be spending hugely for the defense no matter what.”

Did Russia hack into Truss’ phone?

The government is facing calls for an urgent investigation after reports emerged that Liz Truss’ phone was hacked by Russia when she was foreign minister.

But Mr Johnson said he could not speak about security concerns.

The law will prevail

Mr. Johnson truly believes that Mr. Putin will not win in Ukraine.

“I think what the war in Ukraine requires of everyone is strategic patience and perseverance, but I have absolutely no doubt that in the end the law will prevail.

“It’s the difference between good and bad, don’t doubt it. And I think the Ukrainians will win. And our energy security will be greatly improved in the end.”

Johnson’s future role

The ex-Prime Minister said he was “happy to do what I do”.

When asked if he would like an envoy role, he said: “I think my job is to talk about what I think are the immediate needs of Ukraine.

“If I may just repeat this key point for our viewers. I think your brilliant correspondents have done a fantastic job throughout this war which they would agree they need more help to take down these drones and these missiles.”

malek

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