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Boris Johnson has dismissed concerns that Vladimir Putin would use nuclear weapons as a result of the west helping to arm Ukraine in its war against the Russian invasion. It came as he gave an exclusive interview to Talk TV and again pushed for Britain and NATO allies to send President Zelensky’s troops more weapons including fighter jets.
Mr Johnson said he was pleased his push for tanks from western allies had succeeded last week and implied that an article he wrote may have helped persuade the Germans to end their export ban on weapons.
He told Ms Dorries: “I was making the case last week for the tanks and I’m delighted to say that the British Government once again is in the lead in sending tanks to Ukraine. They’re going to need about 300 tanks so we need a big international effort.”
He continued: “The Germans have said that they’re lifting the ban on export of the Leopard tanks, the Americans are giving tanks – I’m not saying it’s anything to do with my article. The key thing is that other countries have got to do the same thing. I tell you this, Nadine, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we gave some more tanks ourselves.”
Some though have warned that the decision to give Ukraine offensive weapons could tip Putin into considering using nuclear weapons.
But Mr Johnson was dismissive of the claim.
“I just think it is just absolutely, vanishingly unlikely any such thing would happen, for all sorts of reasons. First of all, he would immediately lose any support from China from all of the middle ground countries, who frankly have been cutting him too much slack,” he insisted.
He went on: “Putin’s a politician. He wants to succeed, right? And if he does that, he will so terrify his own population, who will think they are, who knows what reprisals they could face.
“To say nothing of the economic reprisal, he will lose his own population as well. And the other thing is, when you look at what a nuclear tactical battlefield, what a nuclear weapon could involve, he wouldn’t stop the Ukrainians and they would fight on, right?
“So in practical terms, it wouldn’t make that much difference on the battlefield. He will simply forfeit any hope of keeping any opinion on side, anywhere in the world. It would be a disaster for him.”
Mr Johnson last week visited Ukraine where President Zelensky welcomed him as a hero after leading the international efforts to help arm the country against the Russian invasion.
Asked about his relationship with Zelensky and what has made them so close, the former Prime Minister said: “I think it’s very simple. I think it’s… look, I was lucky to meet Vlodomir Zelensky very early on in his time, he came to London, we got on very well. But the fundamental thing is that the UK just saw it very clearly and very early, and we saw that it was absolutely black and white. It was good and evil. It was right and wrong.
He added: “Look, there was a discussion about whether or not to give the shoulder-launched missiles… Ben Wallace [was determined]. You were in the discussions in Cabinet…Cabinet was solid. There’s always going to be cautious voices, a lot of people who were worried about this escalation point. So before we did it in 2021 when we were discussing it, people were saying, ‘Well, if you do this you’ll provoke Putin.’ He was going to do it anyway.
“That’s why it’s so important to get over that if you want peace, which I do, then you’ve got to help the Ukranians win, as fast as possible.”
The former Prime Minister also said that allowing Putin to win in ukraine is “unthinkable”.
He said: “It is unthinkable. And I don’t think it’s going to happen.
“I think that this is a war of independence now and wars of independence only end in one way. Ukrainians are fighting for their country, they’re fighting for their land, their hearths and homes, their families, and that gives them the most fantastic moral energy, which the Russian soldiers don’t have.”
He added: “The Russian soldiers, it’s a conscript army. They’re poor people from ethnic minorities in some remote parts of Russia who are being dragooned out there to fight, fed into the mincer of Putin’s war machine. It’s a disaster for them.”
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