"Brexit’s Father" goes to Kyiv. What Boris Johnson said about Ukraine
After criticism of the EU policy towards Ukraine Johnson was labeled as "Putin's defender"
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Ukraine today, on September 14, is expected the landing of substantial diplomatic forces: to our country arrive German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France Jacques Hérault and - for the first time after Brexit - ambiguously perceived British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. And if Ukraine had contacts for a long time with the other diplomats, the relationships with Johnson are just at the beginning. An interest in his visit is heated by his own controversial statements, particularly about Ukraine.
In 2015, Johnson, being the Mayor of London, in his column in The Telegraph urged to cooperate with Putin and Assad in Syria, while calling the Russian president "ruthless and manipulative tyrant" and comparing him to the elf Dobby from "Harry Potter."
“This is the time to set aside our Cold War mindset. It is just not true that whatever is good for Putin must automatically be bad for the West. We both have a clear and concrete objective – to remove the threat from Isil. Everything else is secondary.”, - Wrote Johnson.
Criticism of the EU
A year later, the British politician allowed himself to criticize EU actions in respect of Ukraine, after which was labeled as "Putin's defender".
In May 2016 Johnson during a speech in support of Brexit said that EU for its "claims of defense policy" is partly responsible for the Russian invasion in Ukraine. In response, Sir Jack Straw, the former foreign minister and a key member of the campaign against Brexit, said that Johnson "has reached a new low."
“If you want an example of EU foreign policymaking on the hoof and the EU’s pretensions to running a defence policy that have caused real trouble, then look at what has happened in Ukraine,” he told reporters. “The claims of the EU on private international and defence policy – the risk of undermining NATO. We saw what happened in Bosnia, we saw what happened in Ukraine. Everything on this issue can the EU do to cause confusion and, as we saw in the Balkans, the tragic, the fear, the incident. And in Ukraine, too, everything went wrong,” added Johnson.
Former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, in response to this on Twitter lamented that "Johnson is absolutely ignorant of Ukraine, Russia and the EU" and called it "an apologist for Putin."
Former Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski was sarcastic: "Boris, man, it's time to make a decision: are you with the EU, with President Obama or President Putin?" - He wrote.
Johnson later hit him back, saying that such criticism is "null and void".
"I have repeatedly condemned Putin's actions in Ukraine, - said Johnson -This morning I did not mention the Russian leader. I just said something quite obvious - that the EU's actions in Ukraine are far from ideal."
First contacts with Ukraine
The first among Ukrainian politicians, who talked to Johnson when he was still mayor of London, is the Ukrainian capital's mayor Vitali Klitschko. In December 2014, he visited the British capital, and said that the experience of its authorities can be useful for Kyiv. In his turn, Johnson proposed to Kyiv executives to familiarize with the London experience in management and effective governance of city infrastructure. The Mayor of London has promised the partnership and cooperation to Kyiv, and also agreed on Klitschko’s invitation to visit the Ukrainian capital.
After his appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the first telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin, Johnson confirmed that Britain supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
After Klimkin told about Russian actions in occupied Crimea and the escalation of the conflict in Donbas, Johnson assured that the UK will continue to keep the pressure on Russia. Country’s representatives will encourage Moscow to implement the agreements within the framework of the Minsk process and to return to the international legal field.
The first personal conversation between the two ministers, according to Johnson’s assessment was productive. It took place in Germany, during a meeting of foreign ministers of the OSCE countries. Johnson assured that there will not be any compromise regarding the issue of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
"The UK will not compromise on the sovereignty of one of the parts of Ukraine", - the diplomat wrote on Twitter.
On the eve of his visit to Ukraine Johnson had visited Poland, where he also mentioned the Russian issue. Together with his Polish counterpart Witold Waszczykowski he stands for the preservation of the sanctions against the Russian Federation until this country will fulfill the Minsk agreements.
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