Boris Johnson urges West to provide weapons Ukraine needs to defeat Putin

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson  (PA Wire)
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson has called on the West to “double and treble” its support for Ukraine and provide it with the weapons it needs to defeat Russia.

The former Prime Minister blasted the response the West has afforded the nation since it was invaded by Vladimir Putin last February, as he asked: “What conceivable grounds can there be for delay?”

His comments came in an article he wrote for Mail Plus on Monday - as Ukraine waits to see whether Nato allies will answer its urgent plea for battle tanks.

Kyiv urged Western allies late last week to hurry up and supply tanks and air defence systems, saying Ukraine was paying in lives for the slow pace of discussions in foreign capitals.

“We have no time, the world does not have this time,” Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting then-prime minister Boris Johnson in September (PA Media)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting then-prime minister Boris Johnson in September (PA Media)

So far among the Nato allies, only the UK has agreed to send tanks, in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.

Mr Johnson wrote in Mail Plus: “What conceivable grounds can there be for delay? Why are we not giving the Ukrainians all the help they need, now, when they need it?

“The sooner we can help the Ukrainians to their inevitable victory, the sooner the whole world can begin to recover from Putin’s catastrophe.

“That requires the West to double and treble our support.”

He added that he is “proud the UK is once again making the running” by agreeing to send tanks to Ukraine.

“By sending 14 Challenger 2s, [Defence Secretary] Ben Wallace has set an example,” wrote Mr Johnson. “It is now time for others to follow our lead.

“The Ukrainians need hundreds of tanks and they should be getting them from the Americans, the Germans, the Poles and many others.

“Where does the Western world need to station those tanks, at the moment? Guarding North-Rhine Westphalia? Protecting Tennessee? Prowling the villages of Wiltshire?”

Boris Johnson forged a close link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his time in office (PA Media)
Boris Johnson forged a close link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his time in office (PA Media)

Poland has this week indicated it will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine with or without the permission of Germany which, as producer of the battle vehicles, has a veto on their distribution to other countries.

During an international summit on Friday, Berlin again refused to take a decision on the exportation of the Leopard tanks, despite Western allies pledging billions of dollars in weapons for Ukraine.

It prompted the leaders of dozens of major Commons committees to write to Germany’s Defence Ministry, pleading with it to heed the call from President Volodymyr Zelensky and speed up the delivery of military support.

The group, which includes the chairs of 24 major Commons committees and dozens of senior backbenchers, was coordinated by Labour’s Chris Bryant to contact Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius “at this moment of extreme urgency”.

But on Sunday evening, Poland’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock signalled a shift in her country’s opposition to sending the weaponry, stating that Berlin would not stand in the way if Poland were to export them to Kyiv.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday said that Germany’s approval was of “secondary importance”.