Ukraine peace deal would give Putin ‘license to manipulate’, Boris Johnson tells Macron

PM says some politicians suffering from ‘fatigue’ in pointed remarks at G7

Boris Johnson says politicians suffering from 'fatigue' over Ukraine

Boris Johnson has warned Emmanuel Macron that any attempt to settle the conflict in Ukraine now will give Russian president Vladimir Putin “license to manipulate” other countries.

The prime minister told the French president that compromise will “only cause enduring instability” as the pair met to discuss the war at the G7 summit in Germany.

Mr Macron was criticised for negotiating with Mr Putin at the start of the invasion and said Russia must not be “humiliated” – raising fears Ukraine could be pushed into giving up territory.

In the talks, the PM “stressed any attempt to settle the conflict now will only cause enduring instability and give Mr Putin licence to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity,” said a No 10 spokesperson.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Johnson said there was some “fatigue in populations and politicians” when it came to the conflict. “I think the pressure is there and the anxiety is there, we have got to be honest about that.”

No 10 sought to play down talk of a dispute with the French president, saying the pair had enjoyed a “very friendly and useful” discussion on Ukraine.

Asked whether Mr Johnson’s warning against a “bad peace” was aimed at Mr Macron, the PM’s office said it was aimed at “those who would seek to suggest it was right to settle for Ukraine to somehow settle or cede territory”.

“Both the prime minister and president Macron stressed the need to support Ukraine to strengthen their hand in both the war and any future negotiations,” said No 10.

The Independent understands that Mr Johnson’s team is hopeful the final communique of the G7 will include a clear commitment to long-term support for Ukraine.

Mr Johnson is keen to push EU leaders to provide more military support. Asked whether France and Germany were doing enough over Ukraine, the PM only mentioned the German response.

“I never believed in my lifetime that I would see a German chancellor stepping up in the way that Olaf Scholz has and sending weaponry to help the Ukrainians to protect themselves,” he said. “He has made huge, huge strides.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky will address the G7 summit by video-link on Monday. In his nightly address on Saturday, he said repeated Russian missile strikes show the need for more advanced defensive equipment.

“Forty-five missiles in half a day and just on the eve of such meetings. All clear. Another confirmation of our position,” he said.

The PM’s spokesperson said Mr Johnson and Mr Macron had not discussed the contentious top of small boat crossings in the English Channel, choosing instead to focus on “very significant geopolitical issues”.

A French official said Mr Johnson had told Mr Macron that he was favourable towards the idea of Britain joining a “European political community” – an idea the French president first floated last month.

Mr Macron had suggested a new network could include both the UK and Ukraine. But the PM’s spokesperson played down the idea Mr Johnson was enthusiastic about the idea.

“We’re always looking at ways to further partner with like-minded European countries,” he said following the talks. “It makes sense to listen to any idea put forward by like-mind countries.”

No 10 pushed back against any suggestion the UK would return to pre-Brexit free movement of people as part of the community. “As far as I’m aware, the prime minister hasn’t had any formal details put to him on that,” said the spokesperson.

Seen arm in arm during brief exchanges before their talks, Mr Johnson told the French president, who had taken off his suit jacket in the hot meeting room, that he was “looking well”.

Mr Johnson was also seen in jovial mood with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, as the pair mocked the Russian president.

The British PM asked the assembled G7 leaders if they should keep their jackets on or off, saying: “We have all got to show that we’re tougher than Putin.”

Mr Trudeau joked: “Bare-chested horseback ride,” before Mr Johnson then said: “We’ve got to show our pecs.”

The PM is set to encourage G7 leaders on Monday to considering a temporary waiver on mandates for biofuel. He will argue that the use of grain for biofuel is contributing to reduced availability for food.

Both Britain and Germany are keen to row back on biofuel commitments. But a German government source told Reuters that chancellor Olaf Scholz does not expect the proposal for a temporary waiver on the green fuels to get agreement from other G7 countries.

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