Putins Kremlin crony brands Boris Johnson anti-Russian over Wagner sanctions

Ukraine: 'Nothing will stop Putin' says Volkivskyi

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the state-owned RIA news agency as saying: “As for Mr Johnson, we see him as the most active participant in the race to be anti-Russian. It will lead to a foreign policy dead end.” The attack on the Prime Minister by Moscow came as Mr Johnson described Russia’s treatment of Ukrainians as “absolutely brutal”. It comes as the invasion of Ukraine today hits the one-month mark.

Speaking from Brussels, where Mr Johnson is meeting NATO and EU leaders, the Prime Minister added: “We’ve got to step up. We’ve got to increase our support.

“We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

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.

Britain’s response in particular appeared to be riling Mr Putin.

But hitting back at the Kremlin’s counterattack, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman firmly denied Mr Johnson being “anti-Russian”.

He said: “The Prime Minister is among the most active anti-Putin leaders.

“We have no issue with the Russian people and in fact we have seen many bravely protest – not least (jailed opposition leader) Alexei Navalny – against Putin’s regime and call on them to cease this war.”

Western officials had expected to be supporting a Ukrainian insurgency at this point in the war, rather than the nation’s army as it puts up a fierce resistance.

Mr Johnson said: “We’re moving, really, from a programme of supporting resistance to supporting the Ukrainian defence of their own country.”

READ MORE: Russian solider describes unit being ‘torn apart’ by Ukrainian troops

Praising him as “one of the most extraordinary war leaders of recent times”, Mr Johnson said Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky wants tighter sanctions on Mr Putin’s regime and “very specific defensive military support” for his armed forces.

“And that, we’re determined to provide,” Mr Johnson said.

He also hit out at Moscow’s bid to host Euro 2028, saying Russia should withdraw its forces and the football tournament should be handed to Ukraine.

“The idea of Russia holding any kind of football tournament or any kind of cultural event right now is beyond satire,” he said.

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“The best thing possible would be for the entire Russian armed forces to retire forthwith from Ukraine and to hand it to them, of course.”

However, those remarks came just a day after the UK and Ireland football associations submitted their joint formal interest in staging the tournament.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson was responding to a question about Moscow’s “brazen and sorely misjudged” attempt to obtain a platform on the international stage by hosting the tournament.

“Clearly we remain entirely committed to the UK and Ireland bid for Euro 2028 which retains the Government’s full backing,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

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