Boris Johnson says Putin is ‘doubling down’ with more destruction in Ukraine

The prime minister believes Vladimir Putin has reached a point where he feels he has “no way out” in Ukraine and has therefore decided to “double down” with even more destruction.

Russian shelling hits Ukrainian cities
Russian shelling hits Ukrainian cities

Boris Johnson believes that after strong resistance from Ukrainians, Vladimir Putin “has no way out of the impasse he is in” and has therefore decided to “double up” his invasion with greater destruction.

He spoke of being woken up in the middle of the night by news of Russian shelling of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, saying European security was “equally at risk” from such an attack.

“I was woken up because poor Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was very concerned about what is happening at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant,” he said in an interview with La Repubblica, Die Welt and El Pais.

“He called me to say something with which I deeply agreed, which is: an attack on a nuclear power plant or an explosion at a nuclear power plant is clearly a matter of our common European health and safety.

“Our security is equally involved, equally jeopardized by such an attack. We remember what happened with Chernobyl, the radioactive clouds spread across the continent, including North America as far as I can remember.

Boris Johnson believes Putin is now ‘doubling down’


Jonathan Buckmaster)

“There is clearly a risk. Although the incident has been contained and the IAEA says there is no excess radioactivity, I am concerned about how we can stop a disaster: there are other Ukrainian facilities and there are certainly other Ukrainian nuclear waste sites.

“One of the things we need to consider is how we are going to work together to prevent a catastrophe like this. I don’t think the answers are easy, but we have to work on it.”

He added: “We urgently need to work on it. One of the reasons I think Putin miscalculated so much in this appalling war is that he grossly underestimated the Ukrainians’ willingness to fight and defend their territory, their faith in their country, their love for theirs Country.

“He misunderstood the character of Ukrainians and their determination, and he underestimated President Zelenskyy too, he was extraordinary.

“Putin also underestimated Western unity, and the governments of all the countries represented at this table really worked together very effectively to devise an economic sanctions package that had a very significant impact on Russia.”

Putin has shown no willingness to back down from the Ukraine invasion


AFP via Getty Images)

When asked how to protect nuclear facilities, he said: “We must make it clear to the Kremlin that a civilian nuclear disaster in Ukraine, another Chernobyl, is a disaster for Russia and for everyone.

“So I think that having a system to protect these facilities, a system to ensure radioactivity levels are monitored on the ground by international agencies like the UN and the IAEA, is going to be extremely important.”

Johnson said it appeared Putin was determined to continue the “destruction” in Ukraine.

“To me it feels like Vladimir Putin has decided – and it’s clear what is happening – that he has decided to double down,” he said.

“He sees no way out of the impasse he finds himself in other than to continue the destruction, the pulverization of innocent populations in innocent European cities.

People remove personal belongings from a burning house after they were shelled in the town of Irpin, outside of Kyiv


AFP via Getty Images)

“So we need to respond together with a reinforced package. I would also like to thank and congratulate other European governments, all of whom have now really stepped out in support of Ukrainians and Ukrainian self-rights – defense.

“We must not accept Vladimir Putin’s narrative that this is about him versus NATO or him versus the West.”

The Prime Minister also hinted that the crisis in Ukraine may have improved relations between the UK and the EU.

Asked if the situation has “in some ways healed … many wounds and many broken relationships between the UK and the European Union,” Johnson said “all crises reveal the true relationship”.

Civilians carry belongings across a contested bridge on the front line between Bucha and Irpin during the evacuation


(Getty Images)

“Sometimes when a family is going through major trauma, the true strength of the affection between family members and the way they work together can sometimes suddenly resurface,” he said.

“I think that’s probably what’s happening now.”

He added: “The last few weeks have shown that NATO is stronger than ever, more relevant than ever. When we went to Estonia or Poland just this week, you could feel it there. They want NATO.”

Johnson said Putin was wrong if he thought he would “get less NATO” by invading Ukraine.

“He’s actually getting more NATO. NATO will be closer, they will be bigger,” he said.

“Defense spending is increasing. In the end he got exactly the opposite of what he wanted.”

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