Boris Johnson brands Putin ‘dictator’ and vows to end ‘hideous and barbaric’ Ukrainian war

Prime minister pledges backing ‘diplomatically, politically, economically – and eventually, militarily’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 24 February 2022 14:53
Comments
Putin's ‘hideous venture’ must ‘end in failure’ as Johnson hints at arms for resistance

Boris Johnson has branded Vladimir Putin a “dictator” as he suggested the UK will support Ukraine “militarily” to thwart the invasion.

Delivering a No 10 address, the prime minister vowed Russia will never “subdue the national feeling of the Ukrainians and their passionate belief that their country should be free”.

Mr Johnson accused the Russian president of authorising “a tidal wave of violence against a fellow Slavic people” – as he prepares to announce “massive” sanctions.

And, hinting at military support, he said: “Our mission is clear. Diplomatically, politically, economically – and eventually, militarily – this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.”

The UK, along with the rest of Nato, has ruled out putting troops on the ground – but several Tory MPs are calling for the UK to help enforce a no-fly zone, or even provide air support to Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said his “worst fears have now come true and all our warnings have proved tragically accurate”, with the overnight invasion.

“Innumerable missiles and bombs have been raining down on an entirely innocent population. A vast invasion is underway by land by sea and by air,” he warned.

“And this is not in the infamous phrase some faraway country of which we know little – we have Ukrainian friends in this country, neighbours, co-workers.”

The prime minister added: “We – and the world – cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away.”

But, moments later, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the UK will not be intervening militarily, beyond continuing to strengthen Ukranian forces.

This map shows major cities in Ukraine as well as Moscow-backed separatist regions. As of early this week, rebels held only parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions highlighted

“Our expectation is that the Ukrainian people will fight, will engage with Russian forces. We are providing military, defensive military capability,” he said.

The spokesman also said the issue of a no-fly zone was a matter for Nato - not London - and that he was “not aware” of any such plans.

The UK’s beefed-up sanctions will be unveiled later on Thursday – after the initial package, on Tuesday, was widely criticised as feeble.

They are likely to include banning Russia from the SWIFT international payments system and ending its ability to raise funds on London markets, by issuing sovereign debt.

Experts warn that the measures, while hitting Russia hard, will also rebound on the UK and other countries by hiking already-soaring energy bills even further, as well as supermarket prices.

Delivering a speech, Rishi Sunak said he had spoken with the Bank of England governor, as they monitor the impact of the invasion on the stability of financial markets.

Ukrainians protest outside Downing Street amid Russian invasion

In his statement, Mr Johnson said: “Today, in concert with our allies, we will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.

“And to that end we must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics.”

Some experts have warned Western sanctions will come too late to persuade the Kremlin to change course, amid growing speculation about the Russian’s president’s mental state.

But Mr Johnson said, of Ukraine’s plight: “We will work with them – for however long it takes – to ensure that the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine is restored.

“Because this act of wanton and reckless aggression is an attack not just on Ukraine. It is an attack on democracy and freedom in East Europe and around the world.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in