Germany hits out at Boris Johnson for claiming it wanted Ukraine to 'fold'

Olaf Scholz's spokesman says former UK PM has 'unique relationship with the truth'

Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, left, and former British prime minister Boris Johnson attend the Group of Seven summit in Germany earlier this year. AFP
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Germany on Wednesday lashed out at former UK prime minister Boris Johnson after he claimed Berlin had wanted a quick Russian victory in the war with Ukraine.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's spokesman rejected Mr Johnson's claim that Germany saw it as “better for the whole thing to be over quickly”.

“We know that the very entertaining former prime minister always has a unique relationship with the truth,” said Steffen Hebestreit. “This case is no exception.”

Mr Johnson's reputation for dishonesty was a major factor in his removal from office in July.

Appearing in Lisbon this week in an interview with CNN Portugal, he also accused France of being “in denial” until the last moment that Russia would attack Ukraine.

“We could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing, but different countries had very different perspectives,” Mr Johnson said.

“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.

“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.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz's spokesman said Germany was quick to provide weapons to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. AP

Asked about Mr Johnson's comments on Wednesday, Mr Hebestreit briefly switched into English to say they were “utter nonsense”.

He said Germany had swiftly sided with Ukraine by deciding, two days after the invasion, to send weapons to the country.

It marked a historic break with Germany's post-1945 policy of not sending weapons to conflict zones.

However, Mr Scholz's government has been dogged by claims that it has been too slow in providing arms to Ukraine.

While in office, Mr Johnson generally put on a display of friendship with Mr Scholz despite their different political leanings and styles.

In his final phone call with Mr Scholz, he urged the German leader to “stay the course in his political, military and economic support for Ukraine”, Downing Street said.

Updated: November 23, 2022, 4:32 PM
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