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Germany angrily denies claim by Boris Johnson that it wanted Ukraine to quickly lose to Russia when it invaded

Germany angrily denies claim by Boris Johnson that it wanted Ukraine to quickly lose to Russia when it invaded
Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street
Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street, July 7 2022.DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images
  • Germany slammed comments from Boris Johnson about its attitude to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

  • Johnson said on Monday that Germany initially wanted Ukraine to "fold" to get it over quickly.

  • A German spokesman said the remarks were "utter nonsense" and called Johnson "very entertaining."

Germany hit back at a claim from former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the country wanted Ukraine to "fold" as soon as Russia invaded.

In an interview with CNN Portugal on Monday, Johnson described what he said were the attitudes of several countries, including France and Germany, ahead of the invasion.

He said: "I'll tell you a terrible thing. The German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold."

He said there were "all sorts of sound economic reasons" to take that view.

On Wednesday, Steffen Hebestreit, a spokesperson for the German government, called it "utter nonsense" at a press conference.

"We know that the very entertaining former prime minister always has his own relationship with the truth, also in this case here," he said, per The Guardian's translation. Johnson was ousted from office earlier this year after multiple scandals, including accusations of having misled parliament.

Hebestreit pointed to Germany's military support to Ukraine as evidence that it did not want it to lose.

However, Germany was notably slower than other Western countries to help, prompting criticism internally and from the Ukrainian government.

Before the invasion began, Germany declined to join efforts by nations like the US and UK to send weaponry to Ukraine, and was pilloried by Ukrainians for offering instead a shipment of 5,000 helmets.

In the early weeks of the invasion, Ukraine's then-Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk tweeted in frustration that his country's appeals for German military assistance were met with "just mockery."

As of November 15, the German government says it's provided Ukraine with $1.7 billion in military assistance, compared to some $2.8 billion from the UK and close to $20 billion from the US, which is by far Ukraine's biggest military backer.

At a press conference on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned President Vladimir Putin's indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, Deutsche Welle reported. Russia "can no longer win on the battlefield, that much seems clear," he said, per the outlet.

In the CNN Portugal interview, Johnson also spoke about France, saying: "Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment."

That assessment seemed to be borne out by the ousting, in March, of then-French intelligence chief Eric Vidaud over a failure to anticipate Russia's invasion, as the BBC reported at the time.

Despite being politically embattled domestically throughout the Ukraine conflict, Johnson developed close ties with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before he stepped down and was widely celebrated in Ukraine.

Ultimately, Johnson told CNN, the EU has "done brilliantly" despite his initial "anxiety" about member states' reactions to Putin's aggression.

"What happened was everybody – Germans, French, Italians, everybody, Joe Biden – saw that there was simply no option," he told the outlet. "Because you couldn't negotiate with this guy. That's the key point."

Read the original article on Business Insider