Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed France was “in denial” about the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and accused the German government of initially favoring a quick Ukrainian military defeat over a long conflict.
Johnson told CNN’s partner network CNN Portugal on Monday that the attitudes of Western nations varied widely before Moscow launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, singling out three leading EU countries in comments that are unlikely to be welcomed in European capitals.
While Johnson stressed that EU nations later rallied behind Ukraine and are now providing steadfast support, that was not universally the case in the period before the Russian invasion.
“This thing was a huge shock … we could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing, but different countries had very different perspectives,” Johnson told CNN’s Richard Quest in Portugal. “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,” Johnson claimed, citing “all sorts of sound economic reasons” for that approach.
“I couldn’t support that, I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it. But I can understand why they thought and felt as they did,” Johnson went on. Germany has rapidly sought to reduce its reliance on Russian energy since Moscow’s invasion.
“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment,” Johnson also said.