'Putin will lose, China will strengthen': Boris Johnson's 3 predictions on Ukraine

Updated on Nov 12, 2022 04:12 PM IST

Ex British PM slammed Putin as a 'master of propaganda' and warned he would spin his 'certain' defeat as a victory for Russia, and said he expected the Russians to swallow the story.

Boris Johnson speaks at HT Leadership Summit.
Boris Johnson speaks at HT Leadership Summit.

'Putin will lose and deservedly so... Russian export of military equipment will be affected... and the war in Ukraine will strengthen China...' - former British prime minister Boris Johnson made three predictions on the fifth and final day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit and pitched for stronger economic, political and military ties between the United Kingdom and India.

Johnson - who stepped down as PM in early July - also spoke about the pending free trade agreement between the two countries, declaring the deal had 'mysteriously developed a flat tire since I left office'.

Red-flagging threats from climate change, Covid and 'authoritarian' regimes, he said 'we have to get on with it because the threat has grown'.

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In discussions with Hindustan Times editor-in-chief R Sukumar, the Conservative Party MP also spoke about Brexit, the immigration debate in the UK and China, calling the Asian country 'a giant fact in our lives' and stressing that Delhi and London had to find a way to work with Beijing.

"We live in dangerous times... even if the United Kingdom and India aren't tied together by family and sentiment, by trade and commerce, by economic self-interest... we are drawn together because of the irresponsible behaviour of some of the world's (most) dangerous autocracies."

On Russia's invasion of Ukraine - the 'special military operation' launched by president Vladimir Putin in February that shows no sign of concluding - Johnson then made his three predictions.

READ | Who decided to pull Russia out of Ukraine's Kherson? Kremlin answers

"First... Putin will lose. He will be deservedly beaten by simple heroism of love for country (shown) by the Ukraine people. I can tell you the UK will continue to support them - economically, politically and militarily - till they've taken back their country," he said.

The ex British PM slammed Putin as a 'master of propaganda' and warned he would eventually spin his 'certain' defeat as a victory for Russia, and said he expected the Russians to swallow the story.

READ | Ukraine foreign minister says 'war goes on' after Kherson success

"Second... Russian export of military equipment will be badly affected around the world because of what is happening (in Ukraine). It is a disastrous advertisement for the Russian war machine. 60 per cent of precision missiles turned out to be duds - that is less accurate than my first serve in tennis. Chinese-made tires have exploded under Russian armoured cars," he scoffed.

Johnson also pointed out Russia - which exports billion in weapons to India - had failed to control Ukrainian airspace despite having the superior force.

READ | Outgoing British PM Liz Truss calls for continued support to Ukraine

"The third is that across Asia this disastrous miscalculation by Putin will severely weaken Russia and strengthen China. You can already see that happening in Uzbekistan and across the whole of the former Soviet Union and beyond. The bear is looking increasingly motheaten and forlorn."

He also slammed Putin as a 'punk of (Chinese president) Xi Jinping' and said Russia is being 'pushed around by an assertive giant kung-fu panda (a reference to China)'.

"I would argue given the tension we're seeing across the APAC (Asia Pacific) region and the obvious correlation with what is happening in Ukraine and Taiwan in the South China Sea... it is ever more vital that we two democracies work together for our economic health and collective stability."

Johnson said this collaboration is already in effect and pointed to co-operation between India and UK in the production of Covid vaccines as an example. The AztraZeneca vaccine was developed by British scientists in the University of Oxford and mass manufactured by the Serum Institute in Pune.

The former British PM also pointed to China's 'zero Covid' policy - which has been severely criticised - to shoot down suggestions 'that democracies aren't as good as authoritarian regimes for dealing with pandemics'.

READ | China’s leaders recommit to ‘unswerving’ zero-Covid policy

"It was our two democracies that came together to distribute billions of doses of vaccines around the world," Johnson said, declaring, "I am personally the beneficiary of AstraZeneca masala."

In a final pitch for increased trade between the UK and India, Johnson reminded his audience that prime minister Narendra Modi and he had, in April, decided on Diwali (October 24).

"Prime minister Modi and I said it would be done by Diwali. I wonder what the hold-up is... the possibilities (of collaboration ) are immense but we have to get on with it because the threat has grown. I know the Modi governemnt wants this... and I know my goverment wants it too," he concluded.

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    Chandrashekar is a Senior Editor at Hindustan Times. A journalist with 11+ years across print and digital media, he also has degrees in Sociology and Economics. He has worked in the political, business, sports, and entertainment news spaces, but is happiest just watching football.

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