Boris Johnson claims France was in 'denial' over Russian invasion and Germany wanted Ukraine to 'fold quickly'

23 November 2022, 09:02

Boris Johnson claimed the French were ‘in denial’ over the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine
Boris Johnson claimed the French were ‘in denial’ over the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has risked a diplomatic storm with comments claiming that the French were ‘in denial’ over the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine.

Mr Johnson also said that Germany “wanted the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold,” citing economic reasons.

In an interview with CNN, Mr Johnson, who resigned as PM in July  after a wave of government resignations and a revolt from his own Cabinet, said: “The German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold.”

“I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it. But I can understand why they thought and felt as they did,” he said.

He also said that France was “in denial” about the prospect Russia might invade the country.

Read more: UK to send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since the war began

Read more: French coastguard could face criminal charges after 'leaving 27 migrants to drown'

Ukraine tells civilians to leave liberated areas before winter

He also criticised Italy’s initial response to the invasion. “They were simply saying that they would be unable to support the position we were taking,” given their “massive” reliance on Russian hydrocarbons, he said.

 He went on to say the “the EU has done brilliantly” in its opposition of Russia since that time.

“After all my anxieties … I pay tribute to the way the EU has acted. They have been united. The sanctions were tough,” he said.

His comments come as the Ministry of Defence announced it will be sending helicopters to support Ukraine for the first time.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it will be the first time piloted aircraft would be sent to the war-torn nation since Russia's invasion.

Three former Sea King helicopters will be provided and the first has already arrived in Ukraine.

Mr Wallace, who made the announcement from Oslo where he is meeting allies to discuss ongoing military support for Kyiv, added that the UK will also send an additional 10,000 artillery rounds.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used a visit to the Ukrainian capital several days ago to set out a new £50m package of defence aid which included 125 anti-aircraft guns and equipment to counter Iranian-supplied drones.

Mr Sunak promised the UK will keep supporting Ukraine, on his first visit to the country since taking office in October.

He pledged that UK support for Ukraine in the fight against Russia will remain steadfast, following in the footsteps of predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, and promised Ukraine a £50 million package of defence aid during his visit to Kyiv.

Mr Sunak said: "Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way."

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister is in Ukraine today for his first visit to Kyiv to meet President Zelensky and confirm continued UK support."

The Prime Minister, who has spoken to Mr Zelensky on more than one occasion since entering Downing Street, used his appearance at the G20 this week to join with allies and other Western leaders to condemn Vladimir Putin's invasion.

Mr Sunak said it was "deeply humbling" to be in Kyiv.

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