“A Ukrainian counter-offensive should be supported”

Receiving in a Downing Street reception room which was Margaret Thatcher’s office, Boris Johnson explained his position on Ukraine, Brexit and the migration issue a few days before the G7, Bavaria and NATO summits , to Madrid.

Different approaches have emerged between Western allies on how to end the war in Ukraine. Are you worried that some countries are pushing for a negotiated and quick solution?

There is indeed a risk of “fatigue” with regard to Ukraine, a risk that people will lose sight of the fact that this is an absolutely vital fight for our values. I am thinking of the inflationary outbreaks in our countries, of the cost of energy, of foodstuffs which undeniably have an impact on the patience of our populations. We must continue to help Ukrainians resist.

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We can’t be more Ukrainian than them, they are the victims of Putin’s aggression, it’s up to them to decide. But, if you go to Ukraine, if you talk to the Ukrainians, to President Zelensky, you will leave with the overwhelming impression that they will not cede their territory for peace. They do not want to accept a frozen conflict, a situation where Putin is able to continue threatening them with further violence and aggression. This is why I was so pleased when my three friends Emmanuel [Macron]Mario [Draghi, président du conseil italien] and Olaf [Scholz, le chancelier allemand] left kyiv [le 16 juin]with the idea that Ukraine had to win this war.

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You repeat that Putin must fail, but what does “failure” mean in the case of a nuclear power like Russia?

This is a very important point. When we say Putin must fail, none of us are commenting on Russian politics. We do not oppose Putin as the president of Russia, but Putin insofar as he invaded a country in a totally unjustified way. What I mean by failure is that his forces must be expelled from the invaded areas of Ukraine, we must return at least to the status quo before February 24th. How to achieve it? We are at a tipping point. In the Donbass and eastern Ukraine, Putin’s armies are advancing slowly, inflicting horrific damage on Ukrainian cities and civilian populations, but with extreme expenditure on troops and high-precision weapons.

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According to our intelligence services, Russia could reach a point in the next few months where it has used so much material and lost so many men that it will begin to exhaust its own resources. Then there will be an opportunity to help the Ukrainians not only to protect themselves from new Russian advances, but to turn the tide. This is what I will argue at the G7. To the extent that the Ukrainians may be able to mount a counter-offensive, it should be supported by the equipment they demand from us.

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