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Ukraine can win the war against Vladimir Putin’s troops, says Boris Johnson

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oris Johnson has said Ukraine can “certainly” defeat Russia’s invading troops as the Prime Minister declared the UK will send more weapons to help it defend its territory.

Mr Johnson gave the upbeat assessment after pledging Britain and allies will “ramp up lethal aid to Ukraine” and denouncing Vladimir Putin’s invasion as “barbarism”.

In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight programme on Thursday night, he said: “I think Ukraine can certainly win. I don’t think it’s going to be easy, I think that the situation for the Ukrainians is grim, miserable.

“I don’t think that we’ve seen anything like it for 80 years in Europe and what (Vladimir) Putin is doing is unconscionable.

“But there’s a sense in which Putin has already failed or lost because I think that he had literally no idea that the Ukrainians were going to mount the resistance that they are and he totally misunderstood what Ukraine is.

“And far from extinguishing Ukraine as a nation he is solidifying it.”

Mr Johnson addresses the media during the press conference

/ Getty Images

Earlier, the Prime Minister announced thousands more weapons would be sent to Ukraine, vowing: “We will not stand by while Putin vents his fury on Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson’s delivered the remarks at a press conference following an emergency Nato summit to discuss Europe’s biggest security crisis since the Second World War.

The Prime Minister said military equipment would be provided “in the quantity and with the quality” needed by Ukraine to defend against “its bullying neighbour”.

Mr Johnson announced an extra 6,000 missiles and £25 million in unrestricted funding for Ukraine’s armed forces.

He also promised a “new deployment of UK troops to Bulgaria, on top of doubling our troops both in Poland and in Estonia”.

Joe Biden takes questions during a news conference in Brussels on Thursday

/ REUTERS

As the horror of Russia’s invasion continues – with Mr Putin’s forces relentlessly bombarding urban areas across the country – Mr Johnson declared: “We stand with the people of Kyiv, Mariupol, Lviv and Donetsk.

“Putin must fail and he will fail.”

Shortly afterwards, US President Joe Biden sought to further turn the heat up on his Russian counterpart, labelling him a “brute” and insisting Nato was “more united than ever”.

“This single most important thing is for us to stay unified and the world continue to focus on what a brute this guy is and all the innocent people’s lives that are being lost and ruined,” he told reporters in Brussels.

He Mr Biden said the US was announcing new sanctions on 400 Russian individuals and entities, including 300 members of the Duma as well as oligarchs and companies that “fuel the Russian war machine”.

Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with the West to pour weapons into Ukraine ‘without limit’ in a video address on Thursday morning

/ Facebook

“Putin was banking on Nato being split. From my conversations with him it was clear he didn’t think it could sustain this cohesion,” he said.

“Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he thought he was going to get when he went into Ukraine.

“Nato has never been more united than it is today.”

On the prospect of Russia using chemical weapons amid the invasion, Mr Biden said “we would respond”.

At his own press conference, the Prime Minister said Nato and G7 leaders were united in their “determination to continue turning the screws on the Kremlin’s war machine, including by weaning ourselves off Russian oil and gas and reshaping global energy security”.

However Mr Johnson said it was unlikely the UK would be sending tanks and jets to Ukraine, something the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for earlier on Thursday.

“What President Zelensky wants is to try to relieve Mariupol and to help the thousands of Ukrainian fighters in the city. To that end he does need armour as he sees it,” he said.

“We are looking at what we can do to help. But logistically it looks very difficult both with armour and with jets.”

Service members of pro-Russian troops are seen on a ‘Z’-marked armoured vehicle in Mariupol

/ REUTERS

In a virtual address to the allies on Thursday, Mr Zelensky pleaded for “1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks.”

The Kremlin earlier accused the PM of being the most active anti-Russian leader as he announced sanctions against a further 65 individuals and entities and urged a targeting of Mr Putin’s gold reserves.

However Mr Johnson said there was not “a single person around the table” in Nato or the G7 who “is against Russia or the Russian people”.

He said: “Absolutely not, least of all me. I think I’m probably the only Prime Minister in UK history to be called Boris, I think I have that distinction, and I’m not remotely anti-Russian.

“But I think what we all agree is that what Vladimir Putin is doing, the way he’s leading Russia at the moment, is utterly catastrophic, that his invasion of Ukraine is inhuman and barbaric.”

Among those hit with the latest UK travel bans and asset freezes were the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organisation accused of plotting to assassinate Mr Zelensky.

The Foreign Office said a total of 1,000 fresh sanctions have been handed out since the invasion begun, with the new round including Russian billionaire Eugene Shvidler and Galina Danilchenko, who was installed by Moscow as the mayor of occupied Melitopol in south-east Ukraine.

In other developments, Ukraine said a Russian landing ship had been destroyed and two other vessels damaged in the occupied port city of Berdyansk.

Social media footage showed the Orsk battleship being rocked by an explosion.

Berdyansk, which is west of the besieged port of Mariupol, was seized four days after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russia says it has used the port as a base to ferry in equipment for its troops.

Meanwhile, Kyiv said it has conducted the first proper prisoner exchange with Russia since the war began, with 10 Ukrainians exchanged for 10 Russians. In a separate exchange 11 Russian civilian sailors rescued from a ship that sank off Odesa were swapped for 19 Ukrainian seafarers from a ship captured by the Russians.

And as Russia continued its bombardment of Mariupol – where hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to remain trapped – the World Health Organisation said it was still unable to get desperately needed medical supplies into the besieged city.

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