Boris Johnson Reiterates Support for Ukraine in the Face of Russian Aggression
United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson reiterated his nation’s commitment to preventing a Russian incursion into Ukraine in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Wednesday evening.
In the piece, Johnson emphasized Ukraine’s rights to sovereignty and self-determination, and signaled that NATO would stand up for the threatened eastern European state.
“If I may adapt some famous words: All nations are created equal, they are endowed by international law with certain inalienable rights, and first among these is the right not to have their territory seized, or their foreign policy dictated at gunpoint, by a powerful neighbor,” wrote Johnson.
While Russia continues to signal that an invasion is imminent, mounting forces at its border with Ukraine, Johnson touted the UK’s massive investments into collective security.
“We have the biggest military budget in Europe and the second-largest in NATO. We are the only NATO member that commits the whole of its nuclear deterrent and an aircraft carrier to the alliance,” he noted.
“We have contributed more troops than any other ally to NATO’s ‘enhanced forward presence’ in the Baltic states and Poland. The British army leads NATO’s battle group in Estonia, and we are preparing to double the size of this contingent,” continued Johnson. “We have deployed more than 600 soldiers to Poland, with more on standby to aid the response to any crisis.”
In addition to projecting British military strength, Johnson also pointed out that the U.K. has made an effort to bolster Ukraine’s own fighting force, training 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers and supplying 2,000 antitank missiles.
Recapping his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last week, Johnson warned Russia that the U.K. would “impose heavier economic sanctions on Moscow than ever before” if it proceeds with an assault. Critics have argued that stricter sanctions contingent on invasion, which President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are championing in legislation, are an ineffective deterrent. To supplement its warnings, the U.K. has been engaging Russia in diplomacy.
Johnson’s firm statement of solidarity with Ukraine comes a few weeks after President Biden seemed to accidentally encourage a Russian incursion into the country, indicating that NATO members have not readied a unified response.
Invoking the United Nations Charter, the prime minister wrote that the U.K. did not seek to antagonize Russia, but would protect the interests of all independent nations, including Ukraine.
“I say that with confidence for the simple reason that NATO has no intention of strategically encircling or threatening Russia. On the contrary, we share a profound respect for the Russian nation and a vivid memory of fighting side by side against fascism,” declared Johnson.
“If we combine strong deterrence with patient diplomacy, I believe we can find our way through this crisis. At stake are the rules that protect every nation—big as well as small,” he concluded.