Boris Johnson mistakenly thanked the “inspirational leadership of Vladimir Putin” before quickly correcting himself and saying Volodymyr Zelensky.
In his first major contribution as a backbench MP, the former prime minister said: “Thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian armed forces, thanks in part to the weapons that we are proud to be offering, I congratulate my right honourable friend on his description of the work of the UK armed forces, the weapons that we’re sending, the huge list…
“Thanks also, of course, to the inspirational leadership of Vladimir Putin…”
Johnson immediately realised his mistake and added: “The inspirational leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky, forgive me, the Russian forces have, in recent days been expelled from large parts of the northeast of the country around Kharkiv.
Boris Johnson made the gaffe while speaking in the Commons
(Image: Parliament TV)
“And they are under increasing pressure in Kherson in the south, and I have no doubt whatever that the Ukrainians will win.”
Meanwhile, a former defence minister said Ukraine and its allies should seek to offer Vladimir Putin something that will “enable him to save face”.
Andrew Murrison told the Commons: “Unless we’re going to defeat Russia in classical terms – which is unlikely and desirable – there has to be an off-ramp to allow Putin to construct a narrative that will go down well amongst his population and through the media, which he controls.
“It’s just not acceptable to say that we cannot offer Putin something out of this that will enable him to save face and therefore get whatever it is through with his population.”
Defence minister James Heappey replied: “I’m not sure I agree with (Murrison) entirely. If Putin was looking for an off ramp he’s had plenty of opportunities to deescalate and claim victory at some points along the route.”
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