Boris Johnson today accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having ambitions to reconstitute the great Russia, targeting other states of the former Soviet Union to rebuild what the British prime minister described as Russia‘s old sphere of influence.
“What Putin basically wants is to go back to the old system of spheres of influence, and it‘s not just Ukraine. . that‘s his plan,” Johnson told the House of Commons.
“We have a tough sanctions package ready and what I think it would be fair to say is that we want to see our European friends ready to put that package in place as soon as there is any Russian incursion into Ukraine,” Johnson told the British Parliament.
“It is absolutely vital that the West is united now, because our unity now will be much more effective in deterring any Russian aggression. ” He added that Britain would not hesitate to reinforce sanctions on Moscow and would try to contribute to any NATO deployment if Russia invaded Ukraine.
NATO announced yesterday that it has put forces on standby and is reinforcing Eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in what Russia condemned as Western “hysteria” in response to the troop build-up on the Ukrainian border. However, he said he was ready to talk to President Putin again.
Britain and other NATO allies must be careful not to give Russia an excuse to invade Ukraine, he said, adding that no NATO ally is prepared to send large numbers of troops to fight for Ukraine. “I have to be careful what we do. . that would be a pretext for (Putin) to invade,” Johnson said.
“We in the UK will not hesitate to strengthen our national sanctions against Russia in response to anything President Putin might do and the House of Commons will hear more about that soon,” Johnson said.
Russia seeks to restore the “Iron Curtain“
“We cannot bargain away the vision of a whole and free Europe that emerged in those amazing years from 1989 to 1991,” Johnson said, referring to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union.