A leading international statesman has backed Boris Johnson‘s ability to lead the world at a key moment after Russian President Vladimir Putin used a controversial interview to attack the former Prime Minister.
Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott discussed how Mr Johnson “united the world” to defend Ukraine when Putin’s Russian tanks began their invasion in 2022.
It came after Putin told US journalist Tucker Carlson that Mr Johnson had “dissuaded” Ukraine‘s President Voldymyr Zelensky from signing a peace deal after the invasion.
In a claim which has been branded “nonsense”, Putin said: “He [Zelensky] put his signature and then he himself said, ‘we were ready to sign it and the war would have been over long ago’. However, Prime Minister Johnson came talk to us out of it, and we’ve missed that chance.”
Putin continued: “We have never refused… and the fact that they obeyed the demand or persuasion of Mr Johnson, the former prime minister of Great Britain, seems ridiculous and very sad to me.
“Because…we could have stopped those hostilities with war a year and a half ago already. But the British persuaded us and we refused this. Where is Mr Johnson now? And the war continues.”
Mr Abbott was presenting a Legatum Institute paper callign for the expansion of the new Aukus nuclear submarine defence deal between the UK, Australia and America to bring in Canada and possibly New Zealand “in an increasingly dangerous world”.
He quickly came to the defence of the former British Prime Minister saying his intervention was essential.
He said: “I just don’t know whether there’s any truth in what he seemed to be alleging about Boris. But I thought one of the high points of Boris Johnson‘s Prime Ministership was his instant, complete support for Ukraine.
“And in fact, I think Boris really did in important respects to lead the world there. And good on Britain for doing it.”
The intervention comes at a time when even Rishi Sunak is discussing bringing Mr Johnson back as the Conservatives continue to struggle in the polls.
But Mr Abbott also made it clear he was angry with those slowing up aid for Ukraine, describing the recent block in Congress by House Republicans as “shameful”.
Supporting the Legatum paper, he warned that that the west, especially the Anglosphere, need to be ready for wars around the world and to act as a defence force together.
He said: “The world has moved dramatically, in a surprisingly short space of time, from what appeared to be reasonable tranquillity, a diminution of tensions, to a period of great power strategic competition, which is just getting worse and worse all the time.
“Then, of course, you’ve got the apocalyptic Islamist element as well. So this is a strategically fraught time.
“Aukusis a very significant sign off the determination of the three current partners, to rise to the challenges of these times. But bringing in Canada, as as a first step in its expansion, makes abundant sense.”