Germany hits out at Boris Johnson for ‘utter nonsense’ Ukraine war accusations

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

The German government has hit out at former prime minister Boris Johnson’s spurious suggestion that Berlin initially wanted Ukraine to quickly “fold” following Russia’s invasion in February.

In an interview with CNN Portugal, Mr Johnson accused Germany of preferring a swift Ukrainian defeat in order to avoid economic disruption.

“The German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen - which would be a disaster - then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold,” said Mr Johnson.

With Berlin heavily reliant on Russian energy, he said there were “all sorts of sound economic reasons” for that approach.

Responding to Mr Johnson’s comments, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that he was “tempted to switch to English and say it’s ‘utter nonsense’ what Boris Johnson said”.

He added: “We know that the very entertaining former prime minister always has his own relationship with the truth,” and cited chancellor Olaf Scholz’s strong defence of Ukraine in a speech to the German parliament three days after the war started.

“As such, I think the facts speak against the insinuation I heard in this interview,” Mr Hebestreit said.

Mr Johnson also took swipes at other European allies in his interview with the broadcaster, claiming France was “in denial” about Russia’s hostile intentions towards Ukraine ahead of February’s invasion.

He also said that the Italian government under Mario Draghi was “at one stage simply saying that they would be unable to support the position we were taking”, given their “massive” reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.

Mr Johnson later conceded that European attitudes changed quickly after the invasion and the EU has “done brilliantly” since that point, he said.