Negotiations with Russia doomed to fail, says Johnson

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves for India (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves for India (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson has indicated that he believes negotiations with Russia to end Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are doomed to fail.

The Prime Minister on Wednesday compared dealing with the Russian president to negotiating with a “crocodile when it’s got your leg in its jaws”.

Mr Johnson, speaking on a flight to India, said Mr Putin may only seek to negotiate in earnest if he manages to seize a significant portion of Ukraine.

But he also warned that at that point, the Russian president may try to launch another assault on Kyiv.

How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it's got your leg in its jaws?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

He said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had a “maximalist” approach to wanting to get back territory seized by Russia in the east of Ukraine.

But he said he believes Mr Zelensky is open to negotiations on Crimea, which was annexed by Mr Putin’s forces in 2014.

The Prime Minister told reporters: “It’s for the Ukrainians to decide their future, nothing should be decided about Ukraine without Ukraine.

“But I think it’s very hard to see how the Ukrainians can negotiate with Putin now, given his manifest lack of good faith and his strategy, which is evident, to try to engulf and capture as much of Ukraine as he can, and then perhaps have some sort of negotiation from a position of strength, or even to launch another assault on Kyiv.

“So I really don’t see how the Ukrainians can easily sit down and come to some kind of accommodation.

“How can you negotiate with a crocodile when it’s got your leg in its jaws?

“That’s the difficulty the Ukrainians face.”

Asked if talks are doomed, Mr Johnson replied: “I don’t see how Putin can be taken to be a valid interlocutor now.”

But the Prime Minister did suggest that Mr Zelensky, whom he recently visited in Kyiv and frequently calls, could be open to negotiation on Crimea.

“The view of the president of Ukraine, if I understood him correctly – I speak to him a lot – is he would actually like Russian forces to be expelled from their existing positions in Donetsk and Luhansk.

“That’s a pretty maximalist position,” he said.

“On Crimea they’re not so maximalist.”

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