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British ex-PM Johnson decries 'slow' Western arms delivery for Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek September 14, 2023 1:50 PM 3 min read
Boris Johnson, former UK Prime Minister, wearing academic dress gives a speech at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv on Sept. 9, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine. On Oct. 4, 2022, the Academic Council at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv has awarded Boris Johnson the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. (Photo credit: Les Kasyanov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Kyiv's Western partners to stop "dragging (their) feet" on military aid and speed up the delivery in a column for the latest September issue of The Spectator.

"There is only one thing they (Ukraine) want from us, and that is the weaponry to finish the job – and so I simply do not understand why we keep dragging our feet," Johnson wrote.

According to the British politician, Ukraine needs primarily man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), more Patriot air defense systems, and long-range missiles and artillery.

Johnson criticized Washington's apparent reluctance to provide Kyiv with its ATACMS missiles, pointing out that while Ukraine needs around 200 units, the U.S. has thousands in store.

Britain's former head of state, who gained popularity among Ukrainians for his resolute support for Ukraine when he was in office, called on the U.K. to provide more assistance to Ukraine in the form of howitzers, Storm Shadow missiles, air defenses, and drone technology.

Cleverly: Arming Ukraine is the fastest, and ‘only path to peace’
“Giving the Ukrainians the tools they need to finish the job is the swiftest and indeed the only path to peace,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote in his op-ed published by the Times of Malta on Feb. 5.

He has highlighted Ukraine's successes on the battlefield, namely thwarting Russia's attempt to capture Kyiv or last fall's counteroffensive in Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts.

While admitting that the current counteroffensive in Ukraine's southeast "is going more slowly than some had hoped," Johnson stressed that it is nevertheless "proceeding" and moving toward the strategic city of Melitopol.

Johnson reminded the Western countries of the stakes of the war's outcome.

"If Putin wins in Ukraine, if he holds even a fraction of what he has taken, then the lesson will be clear: that aggression pays, that European borders can once again be changed by violence," the ex-PM wrote.

"...with (what) all that means for Georgia, the Baltic states, anywhere in the former Soviet Union, or former Soviet sphere of influence, where Putin fancies a revanchist and domestically rabble-rousing military operation."

The British Conservative Party politician who served as the country's prime minister between 2019 and 2022 visited Ukraine several times during the full-scale invasion, both when in office and afterward.

Most recently, Johnson arrived in the country last week, visiting both Kyiv and Lviv and speaking at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) forum.

Boris Johnson: West must give Ukraine the weapons it needs as fast as possible.
“Whether it’s the tanks or the long artillery, give them what they need,” Johnson said, adding that Ukraine needs to “kick Putin out of the whole of the territory.”
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