Boris Johnson Pens Op-Ed Urging US To Give Warplanes, Long-Range Missiles To Ukraine

Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson took to the op-ed pages of The Wall Street Journal to argue that a speedier end to the war in Ukraine can be achieved if only the West would supply Kyiv with longer-range missiles, as well as warplanes.

“The world can’t continue to watch as the Ukrainians are terrorised with missiles and drones,” he wrote in the article published Friday. “The Ukrainians have the valour necessary to succeed. They have shown it. They just need the equipment.” He argued that this should include more sophisticated drones, anti-aircraft missiles, planes, ATACMS longer range systems, as well as tanks and armored vehicles – to be delivered as soon as possible.

Boris Johnson previously in Kyiv’s “Maidan” Independence Square, via AFP/Getty Images

He began the op-ed with an argument that precludes the possibility of negotiated settlement: “I don’t care how often I have to say it: The war in Ukraine can end only with Vladimir Putin’s defeat,” Johnson wrote. 

It’s been previously widely reported that on a visit to Ukraine to meet with President Zelensky last spring, then PM Johnson urged the Ukrainians away from the negotiating table. For example, this is what a bombshell story in Ukrainska Pravda said in May, but which was almost completely ignored in Western mainstream media

According Ukrainska Pravda sources close to Zelenskyy, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, who appeared in the capital almost without warning, brought two simple messages. The first is that Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with.

And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they [the UK and US] are not. Johnson’s position was that the collective West, which back in February had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee, now felt that Putin was not really as powerful as they had previously imagined, and that here was a chance to “press him.”

Since then, Ukraine’s government has rejected even the possibility of dialogue with the Russians until all territory has been taken back, and has even launched military attacks on Russian-controlled Crimea, and even on Russia proper. 

Johnson in the WSJ op-ed backed this continued stance, writing that “It is time to look urgently at what more the West can do to help the Ukrainians achieve their military objectives, or at least to kick the Russians out of all the territories invaded this year.”

Meanwhile, for a take that’s directly opposed to Johnson and NATO’s perspective on the origins of the conflict:

Johnson not only warned about what he called “complacency” and the “consequences” of not getting Ukraine longer-range weapons fast enough, but he batted down the possibility of escalation toward nuclear conflict, something even President Biden has expressed concern over. Johnson wrote the following

I know the wearying counterargument that stepping up supplies to Ukraine risks escalation. We dare not risk “poking the Russian bear.” Surely to goodness, after almost a year of this hideous conflict, we can see what total nonsense this is.

Mr. Putin knows he can’t use nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. He knows the consequences. The truth is that he’s the one who fears escalation.

But as a number of prominent US and Western military observers have pointed out, Putin still has a huge number of forces at his disposal which he has yet to deploy to Ukraine.

If anything, it can easily be argued in the face of Johnson’s assertions that Russia is actually still holding back

Johnson in the op-ed recognized the “prodigious” American contribution to Ukraine’s forces to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, but then quickly pivoted to saying it’s not enough. He went so far as to say the West should not only be supplying more advanced drones, but warplanes too. He wrote:

So let’s share the burden and accelerate the denouement. First let’s give the Ukrainians the help they need against aerial attacks. Kyiv needs unmanned aerial vehicles to detect the launch sites of drones and missiles, as well as antiaircraft missiles to take them out. The drones have the same engines as Vespa scooters, so planes to shoot them down don’t have to be fast. As one Ukrainian put it to me, “Spitfires would do.” We don’t make Spitfires in the U.K. anymore, but plenty of countries have planes that would do the job.

Given he wrote the op-ed for the WSJ, at at various times appeals directly to US officials and the American public, it seems clear which country he’s fundamentally asking to supply the “planes that would do the job.” 

For a counterargument and more realist perspective in contrast to Johnson’s ultra-hawkish stance, see the below discussion between highly decorated retired Army Colonel Douglas Magcregor and military historian Michael Vlahos, who has taught at the US Naval War College…


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