Ukraine would have fallen swiftly to Russian dictator Vladmir Putin’s army if it wasn’t for support from the UK, says a major new study by Professor Gwythian Prins. Highlighting the crucial role played by Mr Johnson and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Prof Prins said: “Ukraine was saved from defeat by Day Six by two other men and one country who were equally but differently indispensable.”
In a paper looking at the origins of the invasion and the global response, he argues that the UK’s decisive military assistance in the first week of the Russian blitzkrieg was only possible because it was no longer hamstrung by the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Russia’s plan to seize the capital Kyiv and to kill Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskeyy was stopped by the “lion-hearted valour and morale” of the Ukrainian people and the skill of their commanders, but also by weapons such as anti-tank launchers provided by the UK, said Prof Prins.
He said: “The United Kingdom exercised decisive sovereign will in this most indispensable initial emergency sustainment. It simply could not have done this had it still been under the bureaucratic suzerainty of the European Union and its actual leadership in the Commission.
“During those critical days when Germany was actively obstructive and France was free-lancing, the EU institutions were passive verging on catatonic.”
But it is now essential that support for Ukraine continues, according to the academic.
He said: “The emergency first response led by Johnson and Wallace needs to be followed through with conviction, clarity and continuity … all this means full-hearted acceptance – not least in the British civil service – that Great Britain was the indispensable nation and continues to be so.”
The author is Research Professor Emeritus of the London School of Economics and Political Science and has served in the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of NATO, as Visiting Senior Fellow in the Ministry of Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, as a member of the Strategy Advisory Panel to the British Chiefs of the Defence Staff, as a founder member of the Royal Marines Advisory Group and as an adviser to several foreign governments as well as the United Nations.
His report, Putin’s War at Year’s End: What Next?, is published by the Centre for Brexit Policy.
Conservative MP David Jones said: “This important paper sets the first year of the Russia–Ukraine conflict in historical context and identifies fascinating echoes of 20th century political and military crises.
“In particular, it demonstrates how a reinvigorated, independent United Kingdom under Boris Johnson showed the flair and determination to lead the Western response to Putin’s aggression.”