UK PM issues stark message to China over Russia-Ukraine conflict

In an interview with The Sunday Times', the UK Prime Minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to establish a new authoritarian world order

UK PM Boris Johnson (File photo)
UK PM Boris Johnson (File photo)


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a stark message to China to choose the right side in the Russia-Ukraine conflict as he claimed that there are some signs of second thoughts in Beijing.

In an interview with The Sunday Times' on his way back from a tour of the Middle East, the UK Prime Minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to establish a new authoritarian world order and said China risked being on the wrong side of history by not condemning his actions.

I think that in Beijing you are starting to see some second thoughts, he told the newspaper.

I don't think I have ever seen such a clear case of right and wrong. I've never seen such a stark division between good and evil as there is in this invasion. And it is clear that right is overwhelmingly on the side of the Ukrainians. That's why their plight is obvious to the world and why I think that in the last three weeks people's understanding of what is happening is changing, he said.

With a reference to China, Johnson added: I think that some countries began by thinking Putin's war machine will go through like a knife through butter. That Kyiv will fall soon and it will be tragic, but it will be speedily accomplished.

They have now been disabused of that idea. I think for a lot of people this has been a psychological shock. This has been a terrible realisation for people who may be living in a fool's paradise. There's going to have to be a new way of looking at nations like Russia.

Back in the UK, Boris Johnson came under fire for referencing Brexit in the context of the conflict in Ukraine in his speech to the Conservative Party Spring Conference in Blackpool on Saturday.

This is a turning point for the world. And it's a moment of choice. It's a choice between freedom and oppression, Johnson said in his speech.

And I know that it's the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom, every time, I can give you a couple of famous recent examples. When the British people voted for Brexit, in such large, large numbers, I don't believe it was because they were remotely hostile to foreigners. It's because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself, he said.

The Opposition Labour Party objected to the remarks and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said it was an "insult" to Ukrainians.

Tory peer Lord Barwell from Johnson's own party said voting in a referendum was not "in any way comparable with risking your life" in a war. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, distanced himself from the comments when asked about them during a television show on Sunday.

"No, I don't think those two situations are directly analogous. Clearly, they are not directly analogous and I don't think the Prime Minister was saying that they were directly analogous either," Sunak told Sky News'.

"People will draw their own conclusions. People can make up their own minds," he added.

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