Boris Johnson holds major press conference – five main points as PM addresses nation

Boris Johnson has held his press conference at Downing Styreet with German Chancellor Olah Scholz. The PM and Herr Scholz were at Number 10 for the press briefing on Friday.

During the press conference, Mr Johnson accused Russia of war crimes. He condemned the attack on Ukraine.

He fumed: “It is a war crime indiscriminately to attack civilians. Russia’s crimes in Ukraine will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”

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He told a Downing Street press conference: “The attack at the train station in eastern Ukraine shows the depth to which Putin’s once vaunted army has sunk.

“At least 39 people killed and dozens injured on a train platform crowded with women and children.” The PM continued: “It is a war crime indiscriminately to attack civilians and Russian crimes in Ukraine will not go unnoticed or unpunished.

Below are the main takeaways:

No negotiations

Boris Johnson has said he sees little point in trying to negotiate with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine as his assurances could not be trusted. Following talks in Downing Street with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Prime Minister said he did not criticize those such as French President Emmanuel Macron who continued to speak to Mr Putin although he saw little prospect of success.

“Negotiating with Putin does not seem to me to be full of promise. I don’t feel that he can be trusted,” he said. “That is not to say I don’t admire the efforts of people who try to find a way through. But my own view is that I am deeply, deeply skeptical and, I’m afraid, cynical now about his assurances.”

Mr Scholz said that criticism of Mr Macron for continuing to find a diplomatic solution was “unjustified”.

Disagreement with Germany

Johnson hinted at a disagreement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz over triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he refused to rule out triggering despite the war in Ukraine. He told a Downing Street press conference: “It came up, I think I raised it. It was entirely predictable. The almost seamless harmony that you have observed between Britain and Germany today I would not wish to interrupt by going any further.

“But what I will say to answer your question will we take that off the table, the use of Article 16, no clearly not, there is a problem.” But he said they were in agreement in “virtually every other issue” of policy.


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Russian oil and gas

Mr Johnson told a joint No 10 press conference they agreed on the importance of weaning off Russian oil and gas. “This is not easy for any of us and I applaud the seismic decisions taken by Olaf’s government to move Germany away from Russian hydrocarbons,” he said.

“We cannot transform our respective energy systems overnight but we also know that (Vladimir) Putin’s war will not end overnight.”

Praise for EU

Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, he said: “Just bear in mind the huge steps that the EU are already taking and the Germans are already taking to move away from from oil and gas.

“The dependency has been massive. It’s clearly been something that they’re now moving away from very, very fast, I think by the middle of 2024 as I recall, Germany’s going to stop using Russian gas which is quite extraordinary. And that is going to be done through technological change and progress and we want to work together with Germany to achieve that.”

Questions for China

The Prime Minister said: “Yes, western sanctions can be and as Olaf (Scholz) said in his earlier remarks will be increasingly effective.

“And I think that they will, over the long term, do more and more damage to the economic prospects of Putin’s regime. And that doesn’t mean to say we don’t want other friends and partners around the world to do more.

“And I think for China, there’s a very interesting question to be addressed and that is whether they really want to be associated closely with what is being done in Mariupol, in Bucha, whether they really want to be associated with in any way condoning or in any way supporting the regime of Vladimir Putin.

“And I think as the days have gone by, that question has become increasingly difficult for China”.

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