'Ukraine can win war with Russia,' says Boris Johnson

UK prime minister also said in BBC interview that he doesn't believe Vladimir Putin wants peace

Ukrainian soldiers patrol the road near Kharkiv, Ukraine, as the Russian invasion continues. EPA

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In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight programme on Thursday night, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he believes Ukraine can win against Russia.

“I think Ukraine can certainly win. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, I think that the situation for the Ukrainians is grim, miserable,” he said.

“I don’t think that we’ve seen anything like it for 80 years in Europe and what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing is unconscionable.

“But there’s a sense in which Putin has already failed or lost because I think that he had literally no idea that the Ukrainians were going to mount the resistance that they are and he totally misunderstood what Ukraine is.

“And far from extinguishing Ukraine as a nation, he is solidifying it.”

In the interview with Nicholas Watt, Mr Johnson went on to say that he is “not optimistic that Vladimir Putin really wants” peace.

The prime minister was asked how seriously he is taking the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

He said that while it was “entirely the sensible thing to do”, he added: “If this thing could be solved, it would be fantastic. I’ve got to tell you I’m not optimistic Vladimir Putin really wants that.

“I think he’s decided to double down and to try to Groznyfy the great cities of Ukraine in the way that he has always tried to do and I think that’s a tragic mistake. But that’s what he seems to be doing at the moment.

“Therefore, we need to do more as the West, intensifying the sanctions, sending more missiles as we announced today, 6,000 more missiles, toughening up our sanctions, doing more to stop leakage of Russian gold. All the ways in which we can tighten the screw on him.”

Mr Johnson has said that, even if Nato does not grant Ukraine full membership, allies would provide the country with so much support that Russia would not consider invading again.

“Over time, you can imagine that even if you can’t have an Article 5 guarantee for Ukraine — I mean, full membership of Nato, inside the thermonuclear umbrella, as it were — you can imagine that western sympathisers of Ukraine will provide so much by way of equipment, training, intelligence as to create a kind of deterrence for Ukraine by denial — deterrence by denial of Russian possibility to invade again,” the prime minister said.

“What I’m talking about is so fortifying, so strengthening, the quills of the Ukrainian porcupine as to make it in future indigestible to the Russian invaders.”

Updated: March 25, 2022, 12:45 AM