Russia-Ukraine crisis: We cannot and will not just look away, Boris Johnson says

He chaired an emergency meeting on Thursday morning after the invasion began


By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 4:55 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 9:51 PM

Hours before imposing another round of economic sanctions on Russian entities and individuals, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday addressed the nation, telling Britons that the UK and its allies could not allow freedom to “snuffed out” in Ukraine.

Johnson chaired an emergency meeting on Thursday morning after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, and is due to outline more sanctions in the House of Commons later in the day. An initial tranche of sanctions against some Russian banks and individuals was outlined earlier in the week.

Johnson said in his address: “President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent. He has attacked a friendly country without any provocation and without any credible excuse…A vast invasion is underway by land by sea and by air”.

“And this is not in the infamous phrase some faraway country of which we know little. We have Ukrainian friends in this country; neighbours, co-workers. Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny”.

He added: “We – and the world – cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away”.

There is growing pressure on the Johnson government from within the ruling Conservative party and outside to do more to support Ukraine, including offering air support. Economic sanctions are considered no longer effective in the developing situation.


Johnson said: “Today in concert with our allies we will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy. And to that end we must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics”.

He added: “Our mission is clear. Diplomatically, politically, economically – and eventually, militarily – this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure. And so I say to the people of Russia, whose president has just authorised a tidal wave of violence against a fellow Slavic people”.

Addressing the people of Ukraine, he said: “I say to the Ukrainians in this moment of agony, we are with you, we are praying for you and your families and we are on your side. And if the months ahead are grim, and the flame of freedom burns low I know that it will blaze bright again in Ukraine because for all his bombs and tanks and missiles I don’t believe that the Russian dictator will ever subdue the national feeling of the Ukrainians and their passionate belief that their country should be free”.

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