Boris Johnson: invasion of Ukraine would send shock waves around world

UK PM urges western unity in face of potential military action by Russia

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the threat of sanctions may deter Russian action. Photo: AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

An invasion of Ukraine by Russia would send shock waves around the world, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he warned that the threat of sanctions and other measures may not be enough to deter a Russian attack.

While the intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin were not fully clear, Mr Johnson told the Munich Security Conference that “the omens are grim”.

He said the UK still hoped diplomacy and dialogue could succeed, despite the presence of tens of thousands of Russian troops on the Ukranian border.

“If Ukraine is invaded, the shock will echo around the world. And those echoes will be heard in East Asia, they will be heard in Taiwan,” Mr Johnson said.

“When I spoke to the prime ministers of Japan and Australia this week, they left me in no doubt that the economic and political shocks will be felt on the far side of the world.”

He called for western unity in the face of the threats, adding that sanctions in response to Russian military action against Ukraine would make it “impossible” for Moscow to access the City of London's capital markets.

“We must accept that these measures by the UK and our allies – draconian sanctions, rinsing out dirty money, the intensification of Nato's defences, fortifying our Ukrainian friends – they may not be enough to deter Russian aggression, and it is therefore vital that we learn the lessons of 2014,” Mr Johnson said, referring to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine eight years ago.

The UK has long been accused of turning a blind eye to lucrative flows of Russian-sourced money through London, although the government has sought to crack down on that.

Mr Johnson said Britain intended to “open up the Matryoshka dolls of Russian-owned companies and Russian-owned entities, to find the ultimate beneficiaries within".

The prime minister said that many western leaders, including himself, had visited Kiev in recent weeks to reassure Ukraine of their support.

“How hollow, how meaningless, how insulting those words would seem if, at the very moment when their sovereignty and independence is imperilled, we simply look away.”

Updated: February 19, 2022, 1:48 PM