Boris Johnson has urged China to come out of the fence and join in global condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The prime minister said he believed some members of Xi Jinping’s administration felt “remorse” over Beijing’s neutral stance following Russia’s actions against its neighbour.
Despite Mr Johnson’s suggestion of a possible change in attitude, NATO came under renewed criticism from China on Saturday as Russian forces continued their bombardment of Ukrainian towns. Mr. Johnson used a Sunday time interview to urge China and other neutral countries to align against Russia.
He said: “As time goes on and the number of Russian atrocities increases, I think it becomes more and more difficult and politically embarrassing for people, actively or passively, to tolerate the Putin’s invasion. There are considerable dilemmas now for people who thought they could sit on that, who thought they could sit on the fence, and yes, I think in Beijing you’re starting to have doubts.
US President Joe Biden had a two-hour video call with Chinese President Xi on Friday, but there was little evidence of a change in Beijing’s position. On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Vice Le Yucheng blamed NATO, a “relic of the Cold War”, for the war and criticized sanctions against Russia.
NATO alliance leaders including Mr Biden will meet in Brussels on Thursday, with Mr Johnson suggesting it would be ‘hugely significant’, with the possibility of further pledges of support for Ukraine and its president , Volodymyr Zelensky. “People will want to do more to help Ukrainians defend themselves,” Mr Johnson said.
“But I have to stress that it’s very important that we don’t fall into the trap of giving the impression of stacking Putin’s argument on his own country that this is indeed a war between Russia and NATO; between Russia and the West. That’s not what’s happening here. »
The Prime Minister used a speech at the Conservatives’ Spring Conference on Saturday to argue that Mr Putin’s invasion was not motivated by fear that Ukraine would join an enlarged NATO, but rather because he was terrified of a successful democracy in the former Soviet republic. He said Mr Zelensky, with whom he has regular conversations despite the constant threat of attacks on kyiv, was an “absolutely charming guy but he also proved to be an inspiration and a heroic war leader “.
The possibility of offering Mr Zelensky and his family safe haven in the UK had been mooted, but Mr Johnson told the Sunday Times: “I have to tell you that Volodymyr has always been clear, his duty is to the Ukrainian people; he will stay there, he will take care of them. I must say that I admire him. »
In his conference speech in Blackpool on Saturday, Mr Johnson said Mr Putin was in “utter panic” over the prospect of a popular uprising if freedom was allowed to flourish in Kyiv. The war was a “turning point for the world”, forcing countries to stand up to Russia rather than “compromise with tyranny”.
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