Johnson calls Russian takeover of Ukraine a ‘realistic possibility’
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded a Russian takeover of Ukraine is a “realistic possibility” but added that the situation is “unpredictable.”
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Johnson was asked if he accepted an assessment by Western intelligence officials that Russians winning the war in Ukraine was a possible scenario.
“I mean, look, I think the sad thing is that that is a realistic possibility, yeah, of course. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has a huge army. He has a very difficult political position because he’s made a catastrophic blunder,” Johnson replied.
“He has — the only option he now has really is to continue to try to use his appalling, grinding approach driven — led by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down, and he’s very close to securing a land bridge in Mariupol now,” he continued. “The situation is, I’m afraid, unpredictable at this stage.”
But Johnson claimed that such efforts by Russian forces would not quell the resistance of Ukrainians, who have already endured close to two months of fighting in their country.
“I think that no matter what military superiority Vladimir Putin may be able to bring to bear in the next few months, and I agree it could be a long period, he will not be able to conquer the spirit of the Ukrainian people. And that is just an observable fact,” Johnson maintained.
White House deputy national security adviser for international economics Daleep Singh signaled that the Biden administration did not share Johnson’s assessment on a potential Russian victory during an interview with CNN on Friday when asked about the U.K. prime minister’s comments.
“The assessment from where we stand is that as we continue to intensify these costs through economic sanctions on the battlefield and strategically, ultimately Putin will see that this is not the end game that he bargained for,” Singh said.
“If thousands of body bags are coming home, if his economy is contracting by double digits, if inflation is up to 20 percent, if the shelves are empty, if people can’t travel, if his country is in default, if Russia is a pariah state, that’s not a win for Putin,” he noted.
Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report