Boris Johnson’s claim that Germany wanted Ukraine to quickly “fold” following Russia’s invasion has been dismissed as “utter nonsense” by Berlin.
The former prime minister, who was in office when Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded in February, said Germany wanted Ukraine to quickly lose, rather than have a lengthy war, for “all sorts of sound economic reasons”.
But German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Wednesday sharply refuted his comment.
“We know that the very entertaining former Prime Minister always has a unique relationship with the truth; this case is no exception,” he said, according to German media.
Berlin swiftly decided to send arms to Ukraine after Moscow launched its invasion, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman said, noting the “facts speak against (Mr Johnson’s) claims”.
Switching to English, Mr Hebestreit added: “This is utter nonsense.”
"We know that the very entertaining former Prime Minister always has a unique relationship with the truth. This case is also no exception."
— Miguel Berger (@GermanAmbUK) November 23, 2022
Germany’s ambassador to the UK tweeted the official’s rejection of Mr Johnson’s claim, which will not have helped UK-German relations.
Mr Johnson earlier told US broadcaster CNN: “The Germans, for all sorts of sound economic reasons, really didn’t want it to… I’ll tell you a terrible thing – 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.
“I couldn’t support that. I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it, but I could understand why they thought and felt as they did.”
The ex-PM also said France was in denial “right up until the last moment” when Russian forces crossed the border.
“This thing was a huge shock. We could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing but different countries had very different perspectives,” he said.
“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment.”