Saturday, the world found out that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Ukraine.
Making a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Saturday promised more military equipment and missiles to Ukraine, underscoring his country’s role as Europe’s most enthusiastic supporter of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Britain will provide 120 armored vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems to the Ukrainian military, Downing Street said in a statement issued to coincide with the prime minister’s meeting with Mr. Zelensky. That is in addition to £100 million, or about $130 million, worth of military equipment that Mr. Johnson pledged to Ukraine on Friday.
Most of the attention was focused on the presents Johnson brought with him. He promised 120 Mastiff armored vehicles (read Ukraine Has Joined NATO Whether Russia Likes It or Not, and More Are Yet to Follow), anti-ship missiles (these are widely speculated to be Harpoon missiles with an over-the-horizon capability that will make life very interesting for the Russian Navy), more anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and non-lethal aid like helmets and body armor.
A month ago, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and Czechia visited Kiev when the situation was much dicier (Three Prime Ministers Brave Artillery Fire in Ukraine as Joe Biden Unveils a New White House Tour Schedule). I think Johnson’s personal visit serves multiple purposes.
France’s Macron is too much of a cuck to lead, and Germany’s Scholtz is too deeply compromised by Russian intelligence to attempt to lead the European response to Russian aggression. Boris Johnson is a natural figure to step into the breach. He has good relations with Washington. He is not France or Germany, so the frontline states in Eastern Europe will be less likely to think he’s trying to stick his hands into their pockets to pay for “green energy” or Russian gas. He’s not from one of the frontline countries, so there is no jockeying for status. Finally, by visiting Kiev and making a major delivery of armaments, Johnson puts himself at the head of the European countries supporting Ukraine.
There is some enlightened self-interest as well. Johnson has been hurting in the polls, and getting out in front of UK public support for Ukraine can only help.
On the current polls, Boris Johnson would not only lose government but lose his own seat as an MP. Wouldn't that be a shame… 👀 https://t.co/0HhVmZBse2
— Ben Twomey (@BenTwomeyUK) April 2, 2022
The obvious question in all of this is, where is Joe Biden? Ordinarily, one would expect the American president to lead because of resources, prestige, and neutrality on intro-EU scuffles. Instead, Biden has spent more time and effort trying to avoid offending Putin in return for his help in brokering a nuclear pact with Iran (see In Vienna, the Biden Administration Is Giving Away the Store to Iran, and Russia Is Helping and Will Biden Betray Ukraine and NATO by Lifting Sanctions to Get Putin’s Help With a New Iran Nuclear Deal?) than leading NATO. However, this should not be a surprise after giving Putin the green light for the invasion (Kyiv Is ‘Stunned’ That Biden Appears to Greenlight ‘Minor Incursion’ Into Ukraine).
Under Biden, the US has shown itself to be timid and irresolute. Biden greenlighted Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. His initial sanctions were a joke. He prevented the transfer of Polish, Slovak, and Bulgarian fighters and attack aircraft to Ukraine. He was slow to provide any but the most minimal level of support. The world watched, and the world decided it wasn’t all that crazy about what Biden had to offer. Now the moment has passed. NATO’s leadership role has passed from the US to people who can lead.
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