Boris Johnson tells Putin to ‘turn his tanks around’ as Ukrainian ambassador cheered by MPs

Boris Johnson has demanded President Putin “turn his tanks around” as MPs cheered on the Ukrainian ambassador, who watched proceedings from the Commons public gallery.

In the first PMQs since Russia’s invasion began, Mr Johnson said if President Putin continued to ignore international calls to end his war the UK would ratchet up economic sanctions and aid to Ukraine.

It came after the Prime Minister spoke to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to share his “disgust” at Russian attacks.

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Strikes that damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv and the central square in Kharkiv have caused revulsion, and Western allies fear it is a sign of a shift in Russian tactics towards indiscriminate targeting of urban areas.

Mr Johnson, speaking in the Commons after a minute applause for the Ukrainian ambassador, said: “Putin has seriously miscalculated; in his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has underestimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.

“The UN General Assembly will vote later today and we call on every nation to join us in condemning Russia and demanding that Putin turns his tanks around.

“If instead Putin doubles down then so shall we, further ratcheting up economic pressure and supporting Ukraine with finance, with weapons and with humanitarian assistance.

“Today the Disasters Emergency Committee is launching its Ukraine appeal and every pound donated by the British people will be matched by the Government, starting with £20 million.”

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Labor Leader Sir Keir Starmer backed the Prime Minister’s comments, but pressed on why the Russian-Israeli owner of Chelsea FC, Roman Abramovich, has not been sanctioned.

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Sir Keir said: “We must stand up to Putin and those who prop up his regime. Roman Abramovich is the owner of Chelsea Football Club and various other high-value assets in the United Kingdom. He’s a person of interest to the Home Office because of his links from him to the Russian state and his public association with corrupt activity and practices.

“Last week, the Prime Minister said that Abramovich is facing sanctions. He later corrected the record to say that he isn’t. Well, why on earth isn’t he?”

Mr Johnson said it is not “appropriate” for him to comment on individual cases at this stage, adding: “There’s no doubt that the actions that we’ve already taken are having an effect in Moscow.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace earlier said Putin knows “no limit” and will seek to “pummel” cities in tactics reminiscent of medieval siege warfare.

Russian troops have entered Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv following days of intensive bombardment, but Mr Wallace said Mr Putin’s forces did not yet control it.

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The Ministry of Defense said the latest intelligence suggested Russian forces had reportedly moved into the center of Kherson in south Ukraine.

Artillery and air strikes have targeted built-up areas in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Chernihiv.

But Mr Wallace said the advance of Russian forces continued to be slowed down by a combination of overstretched logistics, poor morale and brave resistance by Ukrainian fighters.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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