Boris says ‘barbarian’ Putin is ‘panicking’ about revolution in Russia and was terrified of having democratic Ukraine on his borders – as he warns West must ‘take back control’ of energy supplies to stop Kremlin
- Boris Johnson has delivered keynote speech to end Tory conference in Blackpool
- The PM lashed out a Putin saying he is ‘panicking’ about revolution in Russia
- He warned the West that it must ‘take back control’ of energy to thwart Kremlin
Boris Johnson today accused ‘barbarian’ Vladimir Putin of invading Ukraine because he is ‘panicking’ about a revolution in Russia.
Delivering his keynote speech to the Tory conference in Blackpool, the PM said the dictator invaded Ukraine because he is terrified of a free, democratic country on his borders.
He gave a stark message to the West that ‘bold steps’ have to be taken to wean off Moscow’s fuel supplies, warning that Putin ‘must fail’ or he will usher in a ‘new age of intimidation’.
The premier also made clear that the UK intends to push ahead with North Sea oil and gas development – and potentially fracking – saying the country will ‘make better use of our own naturally occurring hydrocarbons’.
Boris Johnson today accused ‘barbarian’ Vladimir Putin of invading Ukraine because he is ‘panicking’ about a revolution in Russia
Vladimir Putin gave a a tub-thumping address yesterday to tens of thousands of Russians gathered at Moscow’s world cup stadium, celebrating his invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and drumming up support for his new war
Apartments damaged by shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 13, 2022
Ukraine war should spell the end of ‘woke’ revisionism about British history, Liz Truss said today.
The Foreign Secretary said the UK helping Ukraine to stand up for freedom should navel-gazing ‘about statues and pronouns’ in Britain.
Speaking at the Conservative Party spring conference in Blackpool, Ms Truss said: ‘This is what is important, this is what matters.
‘We have to be proud of our country and our longstanding commitment to freedom and democracy.
‘Now is the time to end the culture of self-doubt, the constant self-questioning and introspection – the ludicrous debates about languages, statues and pronouns.
‘Our history, warts and all, is what makes us what we are today.’
Boris Johnson said it was an ‘invincible strength’ of the UK that ‘we believe, by and large and within the law, that people should be able to do whatever they want provided they don’t do any harm to anybody else’.
‘That’s called freedom and we don’t need to be woke, we just want to be free,’ he said.
‘That’s why talented people are fleeing Russia, quite frankly, right now. That’s why they are flocking to the UK.’
Mr Johnson’s speech was as usual littered with jokes and he was given a warn reception by the Tory faithful.
It was the first time he has addressed them since the Partygate scandal erupted, and Cabinet ministers are increasingly confident he can survive after being seen to handle the Ukraine crisis well.
But the PM’s focus was very much on the global standoff with Russia.
Mr Johnson said: ‘With every day that Ukraine’s heroic resistance continues, it is clear that Putin has made a catastrophic mistake.
‘You have to ask yourself why he did it – why did he decide to invade this totally innocent country?
‘He didn’t really believe that Ukraine was going to join Nato any time soon, he knew perfectly well there was no plan to put missiles on Ukrainian soil.
‘He didn’t really believe the semi-mystical guff he wrote about the origins of the Russian people…. Nostradamus meets Russian Wikipedia. That wasn’t what it was about.
‘I think he was frightened of Ukraine for an entirely different reason.
‘He was frightened of Ukraine because in Ukraine they have a free press and in Ukraine they have free elections.’
Mr Johnson said that for Putin, a free and democratic Ukraine was a threat to his style of rule.
‘With every year that Ukraine progressed – not always easily – towards freedom and democracy and open markets, he feared the Ukrainian example and he feared the implicit reproach to himself,’ he said.
‘Because in Putin’s Russia you get jailed for 15 years just for calling an invasion an invasion, and if you stand against Putin in an election you get poisoned or shot.
‘It’s precisely because Ukraine and Russia have been so historically close that he has been terrified of the effect of that Ukrainian model on him and on Russia.’
He added: ‘He’s been in a total panic about a so-called colour revolution in Russia itself.’
Suggesting the West can never deal with Putin again, Mr Johnson said re-normalising relations with him would be to ‘make exactly the same mistake again’ after the invasion of Georgia.
The speech came after Putin held an extraordinary stagey rally in Moscow, branded ‘Billy Graham meets North Korea’ by a Russian commentator.
Tens of thousands of flag-waving Russians packed out Moscow’s Luzhniki World Cup stadium on Friday as the despot attempted to drum up support for his stalled invasion of Ukraine, peddled debunked claims about why the war started and shilled a false narrative of Russia’s battlefield ‘success’.
However, speaking to journalists outside the stadium, some said they were government workers who had been pressured to come, and were bussed to the event. Others were students who were told they could have a day off from lectures if they attended ‘a concert’.
In one video, as a reporter attempted to film the crowds outside the stadium, attendees were seen turning their backs to the camera in an attempt to hide their faces.
Several Telegram channels critical of the Kremlin reported that students and employees of state institutions in a number of regions were ordered by their superiors to attend rallies and concerts marking the Crimea anniversary. Those reports could not be independently verified.
Meanwhile, whoever set up a live stream of the event on YouTube did not turn the comment section off, meaning thousands of negative comments towards the event – written in Russian – flooded the page, as did blue and yellow heart emojis – the colours of Ukraine’s flag.
Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Putin to end his illegal invasion and negotiate directly with Ukraine’s comic-turned-wartime president, warning that otherwise Russia will take ‘several generations to recover’.
In a night-time video address to the nation outside the Presidential Office on Friday, Zelensky also accused Russian forces of deliberately causing a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ to pressure Kyiv into capitulating to Putin’s demands.
Appealing to Putin to hold direct talks with him as Kremlin troops encircle Ukraine’s capital, he said: ‘We have always insisted on negotiations. We have offered dialogue, offered solutions for peace. Not just for 23 days of invasion.
‘I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk. It’s time to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.’
Ukraine and the West claim that Russia’s invasion is floundering in part due to fierce Ukrainian resistance, poor planning and low morale among Russian forces. According to one US intelligence estimate, 7,000 Russian troops including four generals have already been killed – more than the number of American troops killed in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars at 4,825 and 3,576 respectively – and between 14,000 and 21,000 troops have been injured in the fighting.
The estimated Russian death toll is of a scale similar to that of the Battle of Iwo Jima, where 6,852 US troops were killed and 19,000 were wounded during five weeks of fighting Japanese forces in the most intense phase of the Pacific theatre of World War Two.
Ukraine’s military has also suffered heavy losses, likely to be much higher than the 1,300 troops which Kyiv has confirmed as killed.
Putin spoke in front of a crowd tens of thousands strong at the Luzhniki World Cup stadium in Moscow, one of the few times he has been seen in public since launching his invasion 23 days ago
Ukraine’s military claims Russia has lost 466 tanks, 115 helicopters, 914 vehicles, 95 aircraft, 213 artillery systems, 44 anti-aircraft weapons and 60 fuel tanks. The information could not be independently verified
According to Ukraine’s military, Russia has lost 466 tanks, 115 helicopters, 914 vehicles, 95 aircraft, 213 artillery systems, 44 anti-aircraft weapons and 60 fuel tanks. Russia has not responded to Kyiv’s latest estimates, and the information could not be independently verified.
The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine renounce any ambitions to join NATO, be neutral along the lines of Sweden and Austria, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent territories.
Putin’s lapdog Sergei Lavrov said neutrality was taking centre stage and that Moscow and Kyiv were ‘close to agreeing’ the wording of an agreement on NATO. But Kyiv rejected the proposal and instead called for a global security guarantee among Western partners, including potentially Britain, who will defend Ukraine if it is invaded again.
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