UK government rejects Boris Johnson’s call to send jets to Ukraine

Johnson’s call for jets has been roundly rejected by most Western leaders

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Thomas Brooke
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

The U.K. government has distanced itself from comments made by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has criticized Western allies for not providing Ukraine with fighter jets over fears of a Russian reprisal.

In an address to the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Johnson urged the West to give “Ukrainians the tools to finish the job.”

“Give them the fire artillery systems, give them the tanks… because they have a plan. They know what they need to do,” Johnson said, adding, “My God, Ukrainians have the skills and bravery to do it.”

He claimed the quicker the Western alliance provided Ukraine with the necessary military power to defeat Russia, the sooner the global economy would recover from the current crisis.

“Give them the wherewithal to take that land bridge and the rest of that country because the faster they win, the greater the savings in treasure and in life, and the faster the world economy will bounce back.”

The U.K., the United States, and France have all rejected calls by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the provision of fighter jets to Kyiv.

When asked at the White House on Monday whether the United States would heed the call, President Joe Biden simply replied, “No.”

On Tuesday, a Downing Street spokesperson said, “We do not think it is practical to send those jets into Ukraine.”

Speaking to Fox News, Johnson dismissed concerns by Western leaders that providing fighter jets would lead to further retaliation from Russia and trigger the potential use of nuclear weapons.

“How can we seriously worry about provoking him (Putin) when we have seen what he will do without the slightest provocation?” Johnson asked.

“I’ll tell you why that’s not going to happen,” Johnson said on the threat of nuclear weapons.

“It’s not going to happen because he’d lose the Chinese immediately, he’d lose all his support from the swing voters – from the Indians, the sub-Saharan Africans, the Gulf states, people who are cutting him too much slack at the moment.

“He would absolutely terrify his own population who worry about reprisals. You know what, he probably doesn’t even stop the Ukrainians if he did that.

“And we would put his economy into such a cryogenic paralysis that Russia wouldn’t come out of it for decades. So he’s not going to do that,” the former prime minister added.

Downing Street was quick to distance itself from Johnson’s remarks on Wednesday, confirming the ex-premier was “acting in his own capacity,” and reaffirmed its position that it is “currently not practical to send U.K. jets” given the length of time required to train Ukrainian pilots to use them.

“We will continue to work closely with the Ukrainians to understand their needs and how allies can further support them,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added.

Other European leaders, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, have taken a different view of the conflict than hawks like Johnson. Orbán has warned other European nations that sending advanced weaponry to Ukraine could have dire consequences that will only prolong the war.

“How did it start? It started with the Germans saying they were willing to send helmets because they wouldn’t send lethal tools into the war since that would mean participation in it. This is where we started, Now, we’re at battle tanks, and they’re already talking about planes,” said Orban during an appearance on Hungary’s Kossuth Rádió.

Johnson has remained close with Ukrainian President Zelensky since leaving office and was pictured visiting Kyiv last month. The former prime minister revealed today that since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, his position on the country’s NATO membership has flipped, claiming the argument for them joining the defense alliance is “overwhelming.”

“What is the argument against? That it will provoke Putin?” Johnson asked. “We managed to provoke Putin by not having Ukraine in NATO. It could not be clearer.”

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