Boris Johnson resignation will not impact UK support for Ukraine: experts

Source: www.foxnews.com : 2022-07-11 06:09:45 : Peter Aitken

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Boris Johnson’s resignation as prime minister should not significantly impact the United Kingdom’s support for Ukraine even as the war against Russia drags on and the costs keep piling up. 

“Concerning British policy, we do believe that it remains unchanged,” Former Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan told Fox News Digital. “Regardless of who is coming to take over the Prime Minister’s post, he will or she will pay the same attention to the international agenda.”

Johnson on Thursday announced his intent to step down from the top position following increasing calls for his resignation from within his own party coupled with dozens of ministers quitting his government due to a series of scandals that had led to a “loss of trust” from the public. 

FILE - In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 9, 2022. When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote this week, at least one other world leader shared his relief. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was "great news" that "we have not lost a very important ally." (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

FILE – In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shake hands during their walk in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 9, 2022. When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived a no-confidence vote this week, at least one other world leader shared his relief. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was “great news” that “we have not lost a very important ally.” (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)
(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP, File)

But with Johnson’s resignation comes the fear that Ukraine has lost one of its staunchest allies: Only perhaps President Biden has remained so vocally committed to Ukraine’s defense in the face of Russian invasion. 

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Johnson made two separate visits to Kyiv, including one in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s withdrawal from the capital city as a show of support and confidence in Ukraine’s achievements. The first visit drew plaudits from all corners for Johnson’s courage to walk into a warzone. 

But British Defense Minister Ben Wallace on Thursday reassured Ukraine that the U.K. would remain “full square behind” Kyiv despite Johnson’s resignation. 

“The assistance the UK gives to Ukraine is not just from one person,” Wallace told Sky News. “Not me, not the Prime Minister. It is the whole effort.”

“Actions matter in all of this and while the Prime Minister will be incredibly sad to leave this post, he has led from the front on Ukraine, as he had done on Covid and, obviously, Brexit, and I think that is not lost on many people.”

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Ted Bromund, Senior Research Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told Fox News Digital he does not believe the U.K. will change its position, as the party itself has pushed an anti-Putin stance and agenda that will not disappear with Johnson. 

“You have to bear in mind that, you know, the UK had Russian assassinations on its soil, has a long history now of having troops deployed in the Baltic nations in support of the NATO mission,” he argued. “It has a long history, unlike France and Germany, of actually being willing to put his money where his mouth is as far as opposing the Russians.” 

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 9, 2022.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 9, 2022.
(Embassy of Ukraine to the UK)

And Ukraine officials do not question the British commitment to supporting Ukraine, no matter who takes over. Omelyan said he is “very grateful for all Boris Johnson’s efforts to help Ukraine, and we believe that he was and still is a great, charismatic leader.” 

“We want to do our best to be with our allies in the first year of year and with this great memory and great efforts, I think that previous policy will remain the same,” he said. “In Ukraine, we are all very grateful to us and great in difficult circumstances.” 

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Support for Ukraine has wavered in Europe, with polls indicating that following strong solidarity with Kyiv in the first 100 days of the invasion the public now appears more divided over the long-term goals. The European Council on Foreign Relations found that most countries would prefer a “peace” solution than continue to pursue “justice” for Ukraine. 

Former Ukraine Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan joined the Territorial Defense Force on the first day of the invasion. 

Former Ukraine Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan joined the Territorial Defense Force on the first day of the invasion. 
(Volodymyr Omelyan)

But Omelyan believes that the threat of Russian aggression against other European nations will drive leaders in those countries to continue supporting Ukraine in its defense: French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy just last month as a “message of European unity.” 

“We understand that it’s not about people getting upset or getting, let’s say, fed up,” Omeylan said. “This war in Europe is about the future.”

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“If you recall the first weeks of the war, not all leaders of the European Union or European nation were very much supportive of Ukraine, but people stood with us,” he added. “The big difference is that leaders finally understood the threat coming from Russia and will do everything possible.” 

“Ukrainians are dying, but Europeans still are not losing their lives. I wish it will never happen that war will come to the European Union or NATO member states.” 

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