He said the West was “increasingly at one” on how to push back against Russian aggression. Johnson also congratulated Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz on committing to a harder position on Nord Stream 2 – the gas pipeline that runs between Germany and Russia. The United States has said it would shut it down – potentially with sanctions – if Russian President Vladmir Putin moved into Ukraine.
NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia had a choice and that if it chose confrontation “it would pay a high price.”
“The number of Russian forces is going up, the warning time for a possible attack is going down,” he said. “The UK is playing a leading role delivering militarily and diplomatically.”
Johnson then visited his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw. Poland, unlike Ukraine, is a member of NATO and the EU and shares a 535 kilometre-long border with Ukraine. It is the EU’s most-crossed border.
“Many politicians in Europe have sadly been woken up from their geopolitical nap,” Moraweicki was quoted as saying via an English translator.
“We were not napping, not myself and Boris, we were of the fact that there were threats that are very, very apparent, now the rest of the world needs to wake up.
“We will not be intimidated, we will work for peace, we will strengthen the eastern flank of NATO. Together with our allies we are both determined and unified.”
‘Should have been Britain, not France at the table’
But former British prime minister Sir John Major told the London think tank Institute for Government that Britain had lost its clout on the world stage and the ability to influence the global order, partly due to Johnson’s successful Brexit campaign.
“For example, the Foreign Secretary today is in Moscow meeting her counterpart – I welcome that,” he said.
“The Prime Minister has a brief conversation, I gather, with President Putin about Ukraine, but the President of France had a five-hour meeting across the desk – now that would, typically, have been us.
“It’s an illustration of how I do not think our weight in the international community is as strong as it was or as we would wish it to be.”
Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, received a frosty welcome Moscow when Russian counterpart Lavrov accused her of being “mute” during their meeting.
Lavrov said Truss ignored Russian arguments, reflecting what he described as an “egoistic” stand.
“I certainly wasn’t mute in our discussions earlier, I put forward the UK’s point of view on the current situation as well as seeking to deter Russia from an invasion of Ukraine,” Truss told a news conference in Moscow while standing alongside Lavrov.
with Reuters and AP
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