Boris Johnson slams West for letting Putin ‘get away’ with 2014 Ukraine invasion despite blaming EU at the time


Boris Johnson has been accused of hypocrisy after criticising the West for letting Russia “get away” with its first invasion of Ukraine in 2014 – when he blamed the EU at the time.

In a hard-hitting article, the prime minister argued Vladimir Putin has felt free to “bomb maternity hospitals” because of the “terrible mistake” of failing to confront him eight years ago.

“The Russian leader had committed an act of violent aggression and taken a huge chunk out of a sovereign country – and we let him get away with it,” he has written.

But the senior Labour MP Chris Bryant attacked an attempt to “rewrite history”, ignoring the stance Mr Johnson took when Putin annexed Crimea and armed separatists in the east of Ukraine.

In 2016, Mr Johnson was branded a “Putin apologist” and rebuked by then-prime minister David Cameron, his views likened to those of Nigel Farage and France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

He said: “If you want an example of EU policymaking on the hoof and EU pretensions to running defence policy that have caused real trouble, then look at what has happened in the Ukraine.

“All the EU can do in this question, in my view, is cause confusion and, as we’ve seen in the Balkans, I’m afraid a tragic incident, and in the Ukraine things went wrong as well.”

Mr Bryant hit out on Twitter, saying: “I’m pleased Boris Johnson now accepts, as some of us argued back in 2014, that our feeble response to the annexation of Crimea by Russia was a dangerous mistake.

“But back then he was part of the problem, claiming it was the EU’s fault not Putin’s. Liars can’t rewrite history.”

The clash came ahead of the prime minister flying to Saudi Arabia today, in a bid to persuade Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to boost oil and gas production, to ease reliance on Russia’s exports.

In his article, for The Daily Telegraph, he argued Putin has felt free to “launch his vicious war in Ukraine” because of the West’s “addiction” to his energy supplies.

On the fallout from the 2014 attacks on Ukraine, he has written: “We decided we could somehow go back to normality.

“Economic relations did not just resume – they intensified, with the West taking more Russian gas than ever before, becoming more dependent on the goodwill of Putin.”

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