Boris Johnson admits Russia could win the war, offers to send tanks to Poland
The UK has offered to send tanks to Poland to enable Warsaw to hand over its own tanks to Ukraine, Boris Johnson says, as he became the first Western leader to admit Vladimir Putin could win the war .
The British Prime Minister, speaking on a trip to India, predicted grueling months ahead and said the conflict in Ukraine could continue until the end of next year.
The British government was reluctant to send armored vehicles directly to the Ukrainian government. But he said Western countries needed to look at what more they could do militarily and economically to create “wave after wave of mounting pressure on Putin”.
Johnson described a potential “fill-in” maneuver whereby the UK would compensate Poland if it provided Ukraine with its own T-72 tanks.
“We are looking more at what we can do to replace countries like Poland, which may want to send heavier weapons to help defend Ukrainians,” Johnson told a news conference in New Delhi.
When asked if Russia could win the war, Johnson admitted it was a “realistic possibility”, adding that Putin was determined to “crush the Ukrainians”. Russia was also close to securing a land bridge in Mariupol, he added.
“The sad thing is that it’s a realistic possibility, yes of course… the situation is, I’m afraid, unpredictable at this stage.
His statement was the first admission by a major Western leader that Russia could triumph in the war and marks a significant shift in his own rhetoric from just weeks ago. It also breaks with the united front that the G7 leaders have demonstrated since the beginning of the invasion.
A senior EU official said Johnson’s remark was “ridiculous” and “would make kyiv angry”.
Johnson went on to say that Putin would never be able to “conquer the minds of the Ukrainian people” and was instead building and strengthening the resistance against the invading Russian military.
Speaking after a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels last month, Johnson said: “Putin’s failure in Ukraine is vital for the peace and prosperity of all of us. . . the Ukrainian people will prevail and Putin must fail and he will fail.
US President Joe Biden said Thursday that “our unity with our allies and partners. . . sends an unequivocal message to Putin: he will never succeed in dominating and occupying all of Ukraine. He won’t – it won’t happen”.
Johnson announced the reopening of the British Embassy in Kyiv in recognition of the Ukrainian government’s success in keeping the Russian army from the capital.
The British Prime Minister said the decision to reopen the office next week was a reflection of the “extraordinary courage and success of President Zelensky and the people of Ukraine in resisting Russian forces in Kyiv”.
Speaking during his visit to India, Johnson also paid tribute to British diplomats who had remained elsewhere in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February.
The British government began moving embassy staff from Kyiv in January as speculation grew over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On February 18, just six days before the start of the invasion, the government moved the remaining diplomats from Kyiv to temporary offices in Lviv, western Ukraine, as a “temporary” measure.
Johnson conceded that the Indian government – which has abstained on several procedural motions on Ukraine at the UN – has a long-standing historic relationship with Russia. But he said Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, repeatedly approached Putin to “ask him what he thought he was doing”.