Brexit: Hamilton says Boris should 'get tough' with Macron
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Denmark’s former PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt stated on Question Time: “You said something that almost made me chuckle before when you said that ‘Putin will think that the UK’s leading the efforts against Russia right now’. Of course, it’s not. The European Union is leading the effort against Russia so I don’t think they’ll see Boris Johnson as a particular leader in this field.”
However, the idea that the UK is falling behind the EU in its response to the Ukraine crisis could not be further from the truth, according to the former Sunday Express writer Camilla Tominey.
Ms Tominey does admit some failures on the part of the UK, most notably in its Ukrainian visa scheme, which she says the Home Office has “spectacularly bungled”.
However, she goes on to slam the EU’s response to the Ukraine crisis, while highlighting the stronger parts of the UK’s – in particular, Mr Johnson’s close relationship with Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ms Tominey said: “If you are really so bitter and full of self-loathing that you can’t bring yourself to admit that Britain has lead on Russia – can you not accept that Boris Johnson’s clearly close relationship with President Zelensky is precisely why the likes of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics now look to our Prime Minister for leadership?”
She adds that a Downing Street insider described a telephone conversation between the two leaders as “very emotional”, which left “some of those listening with tears in their eyes.
The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated, argues Ms Tominey, writing: “As evidenced by the warmth with which Zelensky referenced “Boris” in his historic Commons address, they appear to have forged a better bond than most.
“That counts for a great deal in a horrific situation like this, regardless of what the detractors might have you believe.”
Despite Ms Thorning-Schmidt’s insistence that the EU is leading the effort against Russia, the bloc has been widely criticised for elements of its response to the Ukraine crisis.
For instance, Ms Tominey highlights that the UK has sanctioned more Russian assets than the EU and US combined, and pushed forward the removal of Russia from the Swift banking system while the EU “dithered and delayed”.
Furthermore, while both the UK and the US have prevented Russian banks from accessing their respective currencies for reserves, the EU has yet to do the same with the euro.
The EU has also been humiliated for their ties with Russia. While the UK relies on Russian gas for just four percent of its supply, the EU uses it for 40 percent of theirs.
Additionally, some commentators have argued that French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to build a relationship with Putin is actually doing more harm than good.
On February 20, Mr Macron tried to convince Vladimir Putin in a meeting not to escalate the Ukraine situation any further. Putin reassured the French PM that he would pursue a diplomatic route.
The next day, Putin recognised the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as independent and moved his troops into those areas, a move which was widely regarded as a key escalation before the invasion began – leaving Mr Macron humiliated.
The founder of the Brussels-based Centre for Russia, Europe and Asia Studies Theresa Fallon argued that the EU’s failure to present a unified and strong stance against the Russian despot may have served to embolden him in proceeding with the war.
This was also true of the provision of military equipment to Ukraine.
Ms Tominey said: “While we were training 22,000 Ukrainian troops, providing 2,000 anti-tank missiles, and ordering warships to the Black Sea, the Germans were prevaricating over whether to send 5,000 helmets to the Ukrainian army.”
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Germany has since broken with historic policy and provided weapons to Ukrainian soldiers.
Finally, Ms Tominey highlights a baffling decision by the EU to sanction Poland – despite, she argues, “the Poles being among the true heroes of the Ukrainian invasion, taking in more than a million refugees.”
The European Parliament voted to sanction Poland and Hungary earlier this week after the European Court of Justice last month dismissed their challenge to a new law that would allow the bloc to cut funds to member countries found to have violated democratic rights and freedoms.
Ms Tominey said: “If the EU had any morality, it would surely be ploughing billions of euros into Poland to stop the refugee crisis there becoming a pan-European one – not least because most of those refugees will not want to be far from Ukraine, desperately hoping they can one day return to their homeland.
“Instead, EU obsessives are continuing with their petty quest, as all the while Russia shows the true meaning of disregarding the rule of law.”
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