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

Speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ hours after Russian missiles hit Kyiv, shattering what had been relative calm in the Ukrainian capital, Johnson urged Americans, Britons and others in the West to maintain their determination to punish Moscow, despite the effect the war has had on world oil prices.

“I would just say to people in the United States that this is something that America does and historically has to do, and that is to stand up for peace, 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 he is about to do…then the consequences for the world are absolutely catastrophic. “

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

Leaders are expected to discuss new methods to punish Moscow, including a ban on new gold imports from Russia announced by US President Joe Biden on Sunday. But what weighs on the summit is whether the West can maintain its resolve to punish Putin amid soaring energy prices — and the political backlash the surge has caused leaders at home.

Johnson, who has traveled to Kyiv twice to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said allowing Russia to succeed in its invasion would set a dangerous precedent.

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

The cost to Western nations of defending Ukraine – including the billions of dollars in security aid provided by the United States – is “a price worth paying for democracy and freedom,” Johnson said.

The G7 summit provided a sort of refuge for Johnson, who faces serious political headwinds at home in the UK. The fallout from the ‘Partygate’ scandal – in which anti-Covid lockdown events took place in Downing Street – continues to reverberate, and questions about Johnson’s leadership have only intensified even as he said he wanted to run for a third term.

Just last week, Johnson suffered a blow to his authority after his Conservative Party lost two by-elections in one night. Yet so far the prime minister has resisted calls for change in his political approach and recently said he would not undergo a ‘psychological transformation’.

In Germany, Johnson sought to present 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 have things going home – that’s a good thing. I have people on my case, I have people making arguments,” he said.

And he used Putin, who exists in a largely frictionless political environment, as an example of how leaders of undemocratic systems can wield power.

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

When it came to American democracy, Johnson was equally optimistic — 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 going to take the fifth on that,” he said, adding, “As a matter of principle, we shouldn’t be talking about each other’s domestic politics. It’s for the American people.”

Scenes of violent chaos at the United States Capitol that day shocked Americans and the world. But Johnson insisted the breach did not equate to the demise of American democracy.

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

“I think just the fact that Joe Biden stepped in the way he did shows that America’s instincts are still in the right place,” he said.

Still, Johnson acknowledged that the violent Capitol riot had alarmed observers abroad.

“There were some bizarre and unattractive scenes,” he said.

“Weird?” asked Taper. “People died.”

“I mean, looking from the outside, it was pretty weird,” Johnson said. “But I don’t believe that American democracy is seriously threatened. Far from it. I continue to believe that America is the world’s greatest guarantor of democracy and freedom.”


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