Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC towards the close of the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, the Prime Minister said it was worth “bearing in mind” that notwithstanding the invasion of Ukraine, or perhaps because of it, Putin “enjoys very considerable levels of public support”. He claimed that fact affords Putin “political manoeuvre” to bring an end to the offensive in Ukraine and come back to the negotiating table with Europe.
Mr Ferrari asked: “Does it have to end with Putin out of the Kremlin, by fair means or foul?”
Mr Johnson said: “No, of course not.” He was then asked by Mr Ferrari if Putin was capable of “negotiating a peace”, to which Mr Johnson said: “Yes.”
He said: “I would just make a point here that everyone needs to bear in mind. The Russian President actually enjoys very considerable levels of public support at the moment in Russia.
“And he has, I think, considerable margin for manoeuvre, political manoeuvre, to say, ‘Look, I went in [to Ukraine].
“‘I had to achieve certain things but in the interest of peace and in the interests of the world, I think the time has come to bring the technical military operation to an end and to withdraw and to seek a new relationship’. That is what he should do.”
Earlier this week, Mr Johnson claimed that Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, blaming the Russian leader’s “toxic masculinity” for the atrocities in the neighbouring nation.
The Prime Minister said the “crazy, macho” invasion was a “perfect example of toxic masculinity” and he called for “more women in positions of power”.
Those comments were then echoed by defence secretary Ben Wallace, who said that Putin had “small man syndrome in spades”.
Putin then responded while at a conference in Turkmenistan, accusing Margaret Thatcher of being a female aggressor in the Falklands.
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With its ground forces concentrated in Ukraine’s eastern industrial region of Donbas, Russia has more than doubled the number of missile strikes around the country in the past two weeks, using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles for more than half of the attacks, according to a Ukrainian brigadier general.
One missile struck a nine-story building in the town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at about 1 a.m. (2200 GMT Thursday), the Ukrainian emergencies ministry said. It also caused a fire in an attached store building.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for the Odessa regional administration, told Ukrainian state television a rescue operation was underway as some people remained buried under the rubble after part of the building collapsed.
Another missile hit a resort facility, Bratchuk said, killing at least three people including a child, and wounding one more person.
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