What’s the good of Boris Johnson’s 6 point plan for Ukraine?

Johnson is an ideas not a rules man. He came close to running out of ideas last month, because he broke so many rules, but there’s nothing like a foreign crisis to divert focus and Johnson has been busy reminding us why we liked him only a few years ago. He has come up with 6 ideas to sort the Ukraine crisis, they include one big unstated idea, “we do not escalate to war“.

Here are the 6 ideas;

  • World leaders should mobilise an “international humanitarian coalition” for Ukraine
  • They should also support Ukraine “in its efforts to provide for its own self-defence”
  • Economic pressure on Russia should be ratcheted up
  • The international community must resist Russia’s “creeping normalisation” of its actions in Ukraine
  • Diplomatic resolutions to the war must be pursued, but only with the full participation of Ukraine’s legitimate government
  • There should be a “rapid campaign to strengthen security and resilience” among Nato countries

An international humanitarian coalition

This is undoubtedly needed. But while stockpiles of donations pile up at the Ukranian border, getting water, food and heating into Sumy and Mariupol is another matter. The reconstruction of those towns and cities that have suffered damage is a matter for the IMF, I struggle to see what an international coalition can do in the short term, which is not being done by the many NGOs and charities already deeply involved.

Supporting Ukraine’s self-defence

We of course do not  know exactly what support the west is giving Ukraine. The irony is that the Ukrainian army is mostly trained to use Russian weapon systems, especially in the air. So it’s good to hear that the Polish air force will be giving its Russian built aircraft to Ukraine in exchange for American aircraft, supplied to Poland.  It’s another irony that the Ukrainian army appears to be growing faster than its losses as a reported 16,000 non-Ukrainians join many times that number of ex-pats in crossing into Ukraine to fight. Russia has turned from “de-militarising” to destruction, which serves no long-term purpose but is fuelling resistance internally and externally, Johnson is on firm ground in not supporting a no-fly zone, direct intervention would make matters worse, the Ukrainian army , organically and with the help of volunteers, must fight this battle as and for Ukraine.

Economic pressure on Russia should be ratcheted up

Agreed. Putin’s response to sanctions has been

 “akin to a declaration of war”.

“But thank God it has not come to that,”

This statement, made yesterday, is one of the few things Putin has said in the past ten days, that makes sense.

The sanctions are likely to weaken Putin’s power base (the oligarchs and their wealth). Wake Russian people up to the Ukrainian “special military operation” being rather more than State propaganda would have them believe and will weaken Russia’s economic situation. Much will depend on whether India and China decide to exploit the sanctions to increase trade, or further isolate Putin – one route to regime change.

The key to the application of sanctions, is diplomacy with the East.

Creeping normalisation

I find the call for the world to resist Russia’s normalisation of its actions – strange. Russia has been normalising violence to civilians for the past two decades, witness wars in Chechnya and interventions in Syria. The West have not sanctioned Russian actions in matters large or small, so they have become normal. Pictures of rubble look much the same in Aleppo or Mariupol.

The sporting boycott and the images of the Premier League supporting Ukraine, are likely to influence neutral populations (India/China) more than statements from Government. Social media – where it is independent of the state, is likely to favor Ukraine.

The best way of Government to resist creeping normalisation is to assure a free media that reports on facts. That means a greater degree of transparency at home and abroad.

Diplomacy through Ukraine

  • Diplomatic resolutions to the war must be pursued, but only with the full participation of Ukraine’s legitimate government

This is important and right. This is Ukraine’s battle to win, not Britain’s , Nato’s , Europe’s or America’s.

Ultimately Ukraine has to be reinstated as a sovereign nation as a result of its own efforts, and recognised as such. This is another reason why direct military intervention “only makes things worse“.  Although Ukraine is calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone , this is actually counter-productive to a long-term settlement. This war has to be confined, if it is to resolved without escalation that will harm Ukraine as much as everyone else.

Strengthening NATO

Need for resolve not re-armament

Johnson’s call to  to strengthen security and resilience among Nato countries, is likely to be realised through increased purpose and self-confidence , rather than re-armament.

If, as now seems likely, Russia loses the war in Ukraine, then NATO has an important role to play in the peace. Rules of engagement must be strengthened so that other nations not in NATO and vulnerable to aggression are protected.

It should be noted that the strength of NATO is now much more than the strength of the United States which has been marginalised in this crisis. The Geopolitical battle is now about Europe taking care of itself. That’s Europe with the UK co-joined. Johnson is right to stress the power of NATO – and tactful in neither aligning himself to the USA or Europe.

Can I get behind this six-point plan?

Of course, the plan is mainly a statement by Johnson that he believes the UK has a role to play as a leader in the “free world”. This plays well to a UK audience and – since Britain is independent of Europe and others, it should play well to the western alliance – including the Commonwealth and perhaps too to India, China and the East.

Whether the 6 point plan gets traction or not, it shows our Government knows what it is doing (and not doing).  It amount to a declaration that stops just short of war, which is where Britain needs to be.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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5 Responses to What’s the good of Boris Johnson’s 6 point plan for Ukraine?

  1. One of the best analyses of the situation I’ve read, Henry. And the first to call out that Russia is likely to lose the war. Perhaps Putin was egged on by his military to invade now, before Ukraine’s army grew enough to make invasion impossible. And perhaps he will end up like the other “Rocket Man” in N Korea, in charge of an impoverished nation, and sabre-rattling with the rockets he dare not use because he knows the nuclear consequences…

  2. Jnamdoc says:

    Well said. And at least the British political classes and associated press have stopped fretting about how long someone held a wine glass in deciding whether or not there as a party. A reality check one feels.

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