Boris Johnson complains that West has “turned the other cheek” to Russia – despite its own record

The Tories have been in power for 12 years, have stolen millions from wealthy people with ties to Russia, and Boris Johnson himself has been branded a “Putin apologist” for his comments about Ukraine in 2016

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Boris Johnson calls Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘an atrocity’

Boris Johnson said today the West had “turned the other cheek” to Russia for too long.

The prime minister wrote a 1,300-word New York Times essay lamenting that “we have failed to learn the lessons from Russian behavior that have led to this point.”

Warning “We must now prepare for even darker days,” he added: “No one can say that we were not warned: we saw what Russia did in Georgia in 2008, in Ukraine in 2014 and even on the streets of the British city has done from Salisbury.”

Britain-Russia relations have continued to freeze in the freezer over the past decade, and the Prime Minister has warned of this before.

However, Mr Johnson failed to mention that he himself was branded a “Putin apologist” during the Brexit campaign when he tried to blame the EU for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

He and the Conservatives have also faced criticism on a number of fronts during the 12 years in government, including when Mr Johnson served as Foreign Secretary.

Since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister, the party has accepted donations of £2million from individuals or firms with links to Russia.

Boris Johnson meets with service members from RAF Brize Norton to thank them for their continued work in facilitating military support to Ukraine and NATO


(Getty Images)

The prime minister refuses to apologize for or return those donations, saying not all Russian dual citizens should be disfellowshipped because of the behavior of Putin and his cronies.

Today he faces investigation by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee over a peerage he gave to a Russian-born pal.

The prime minister appointed Evgeny Lebedev, the media mogul, socialite and son of a billionaire ex-KGB agent, Lord Lebedev of Siberia, in 2020. He intervened after security services raised initial concerns, according to The Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, the government is facing accusations that it has not acted quickly enough to stop “dirty” Russian money flowing through the UK.

The controversial “Tier 1” investor visa used by wealthy Russians was only shut down on February 17, and since then there has been a wave of sanctions.

In his essay today, Mr Johnson said: ‘Have we done enough for Ukraine? The honest answer is no.”

He said: “We’ve turned the other cheek for too long,” adding: “It’s no longer enough to utter warm platitudes about the rules-based international order.

“We will have to actively defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules using force and other tools such as economic coercion.”

Critics highlighted a speech Mr Johnson gave in the 9 May 2016 Vote Leave campaign just before the EU referendum.

Boris Johnson on May 9, 2016, the day he was branded a “Putin apologist”.


(Getty Images)

Two years after Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, he said the EU was a “force of instability” after failing to stop the action.

“It is the EU itself and its anti-democratic tendencies that are now a force for instability and alienation,” he said in 2016.

He added: “If you want an example of EU policies and the EU’s claim to a defense policy that caused real problems, then look at what happened in Ukraine.”

The MEP continued: “What worries me now is that the EU’s aspiration is to pursue a foreign and defense policy that risks undermining NATO. We saw what happened in Bosnia, we saw what happened in Ukraine…

“All I think the EU can do on this issue is create confusion and as we have seen in the Balkans I fear a tragic incident and something has also gone wrong in Ukraine.”

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt lashed out at Boris Johnson on Twitter at the time, saying: “I’m sorry to say this but @BorisJohnson is completely ignorant of the facts about Ukraine, the EU and Russia. apologist for Putin.”

1 Blocking access of Russian banks to the West, with a plan to completely freeze the assets of all Russian banks.

2 sanctions against Russian central banks and financial institutions, already in force.

3 Preventing Russian companies and the Russian state from raising debt in the UK, already in force.

4 Asset freezes against individual oligarchs, 15 so far, including Putin and Lavrov, and more to come.

5 Focus on key strategic sectors including defence, with more services and energy planned.

6 Blocking access to SWIFT, with the UK still pushing for a full SWIFT ban against all Russian banks.

7 Ban on Russian planes and ships landing in the UK, with new legislation next week to put this on a longer-term basis.

8 Ban on the export of dual-use items to Russia, such as B. Electronics that could be used in military computers or weapons.

9 Set a limit of £50,000 on deposits by wealthy Russians in UK bank accounts.

10 Extension of the above sanctions to Belarus due to its role in supporting the Russian invasion.

11 Extension of the overall trade embargo between the UK and Crimea to the “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk. But still no date due to concerns about protecting Ukrainians who are still there.

12 sanctions against all members of the Russian Parliament and Russian National Security who voted for the invasion. Still ongoing, although the EU is already acting.

For further information, click here.

In his essay, Mr Johnson again ruled out deploying troops on the ground in Ukraine. Britain has also ruled out a no-fly zone.

He said: “The truth is that Ukraine had no serious prospect of NATO membership in the near future.

“This is not a NATO conflict and will not become one. No ally sent combat troops to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson in rare talks with Vladimir Putin in January 2020, when relations were already downright chilly


Alexei Nikolsky/TASS)

Mr Johnson called on leaders to mobilize an “international humanitarian coalition” for Ukraine and to support the country “in its efforts to secure its own self-defence”.

Economic pressure on the Kremlin should be increased, he said, and the leadership must resist the “creeping normalization” of what Russia is doing in Ukraine.

Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey said the Prime Minister must match his rhetoric with action.

He told Times Radio: “In many ways, some of our allies could reasonably turn around and say, ‘Well it’s all very well for you Boris Johnson, but you have to balance some of your harsh rhetoric now with your own actions . particularly on humanitarian aid, diplomacy and sanctions”.

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