NEW DELHI: Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday it is only a matter of time before Russian President Vladimir Putin is forced to retreat from Ukraine though the “catastrophic” invasion will “greatly strengthen China” and have security implications across the Indo-Pacific region.
Johnson made what he said were “three confident predictions” while speaking at the 20th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit: that “Putin will lose”, Russia’s defence exports will be badly affected across the world because of the poor performance of its weaponry in Ukraine, and “this disastrous miscalculation by Putin will severely weaken Russia and greatly strengthen China”.
There is no deal the Ukrainians, who have cleared Russian invaders from Kharkiv and Kherson regions, “can or should do” with Russia, said Johnson, who played a key role in providing military and diplomatic support to Ukraine during his stint as prime minister. Putin will “deservedly” lose because of the “simple heroism and love of country of the Ukrainian people”, he added.
Russia’s exports of military equipment will be affected because the campaign in Ukraine is a “disastrous advertisement for Putin’s war machine”, Johnson said, noting that 60% of precision-guided missiles had turned out to be duds while tanks were “blown up like biscuit tins”. He added that Russian combat planes still don’t control Ukrainian airspace though Moscow earlier claimed this would be achieved within hours of the launch of the invasion.
“Across the whole of Asia, this disastrous miscalculation by Putin will severely weaken Russia and greatly strengthen China,” he said, adding that the effects were already being seen in Kazakhstan and parts of the former Soviet Union.
“The bear is looking increasingly moth-eaten and forlorn and pushed around by a giant kung fu panda,” Johnson said. Contending that Putin consulted only Chinese President Xi Jinping before launching the invasion in February, he said, “Increasingly, you can see that he [Putin] is the punk of Xi Jinping.”
The end goal in Ukraine has to be Putin retreating to the “pre-February 24 borders”, Johnson said, adding that he didn’t see a risk of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia.
“I think were he [Putin] to use weapons of mass destruction, Russia would tender its immediate resignation from the club of civilised nations. It’ll be disaster for Russia, I think that he would immediately lose the support of the swing voters in the world, and I have to say I include India as perhaps the most important of those swing voters – the people who are willing to cut him some slack on this thing,” he said.
“I think he would lose the patronage of the Chinese, I think he would terrify the Russian people about the possible implications for them and he would put Russia into a…cryogenic eco isolation from which it would be very difficult to recover.”
Johnson brushed aside a suggestion that European countries could…