Opinion: Don’t be fooled by Boris Johnson’s support for Ukraine
Which is strange. Because Johnson has two things in common with Putin that serve the Russian president’s strategic goals more than his support for Ukraine threatens them.
Ukrainians are dying for the right to join the European Union – an international body Johnson fought to leave and Putin worked hard to undermine.
The country that withstood Putin’s invasion is now feeding its young through a Russian meat grinder that is slowly creeping its way into territory to the east.
The British Prime Minister made two pilgrimages to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, where he promised arms, money and unwavering diplomatic support to President Volodomyr Zelensky.
Johnson has long sought to channel Britain’s World War II-era Prime Minister Winston Churchill. But he convinces very little, no matter how welcomed he is in Kyiv, that he understands that many of the freedoms Ukrainians seek are within the EU.
For years, Johnson, the disheveled political wizard, was the golden boy of the British Conservative Party. A favorite of comedy shows; Johnson’s fake clumsiness delivered Brexit and a landslide victory in the general election.
These domestic woes may explain his passionate interest in Ukraine. But he carefully avoided any mention of the essence of his fight with Russia, which is, at bottom, Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union.
Despite all its chants of being the Prime Minister to break the political deadlock and “Get Brexit Done”, Johnson’s government has failed to strike a trade deal with Brussels.
This would almost certainly violate international law. Plans to impose tariffs on steel imports into the UK risk breaking World Trade Organization rules. And risks a trade war with steel-producing China, India and Turkey.
The World Trade Organization (WTO), child of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was a very British vision. The Northern Ireland Protocol is a treaty between Britain and the EU meant to secure the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.
Tearing the fabric of these contracts undermines Britain’s standing in the world.
A British prime minister’s threat to quit the ECHR, a tribunal the British helped set up to establish a pan-European legal system to prevent atrocities in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, must seem bizarre to Ukrainians .
They would definitely like a bit of ECHR right now.
Ukrainian investigators will seek the help of international organizations to prosecute suspected war criminals. He is as determined to join international organizations like the EU as Johnson is to leave them.
Indeed, it was Ukraine’s desire to join the EU that sparked the revolution against pro-Putin anti-EU President Victor Yanukovych in 2014.
This is not a new argument and NATO members will listen.
But not from a British Prime Minister who has problems at home and cannot be trusted to keep even written promises abroad.