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Boris Johnson told Cabinet on Tuesday that the Ukraine conflict had turned into “something we have not seen for decades”.
The Prime Minister added that the “incredible Ukrainian resistance” had managed to “stall” Putin’s forces and had ensured that the Russian leader’s “hope of conquering the country in a matter of days had been thwarted”.
He also said the conflict was seeing “savage war machine bombarding unarmed civilians relentlessly”.
It comes after Johnson watched a televised address by Volodymyr Zelenskyy alongside alongside Baltic and Nordic leaders at a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
The Ukrainian President used the address to thank nations for their “moral stance” in opposing Russia, and also urged them to “help yourselves by helping us”.
Following Zelenskyy’s broadcast, the Prime Minister said there was a need to “go harder on the banks” against Russia in response to its incursion into Ukraine.
“You’ve challenged us quite rightly to do more and we all know that we can and we must do more. We’ve been discussing it last night and this morning,” Johnson said.
“And when you talk about trying to protect Ukraine from the air, Volodymyr, who can listen to your appeals without a sense of urgency? And this is a desperate, desperate moment and I think we must try to do more particularly to support you in protecting the Ukrainian people from bombardment by artillery and by aviation.”
Addressing Cabinet earlier, Johnson praised the “generosity of spirits of the British people” after over 89,000 people expressed interest in housing a Ukrainian refugee within 24 hours of the scheme opening.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said it was still “too early” to estimate how many people would ultimately offer their homes to those fleeing the conflict.
“What we are in no doubt about is there’s been a huge response from the British public.”
Asked whether how excess capacity in the system could be used, including for housing other refugees currently in temporary accomodation, the spokesperson insisted the scheme was in its “relatively early stages”.
“What people have done is expressed interest in the scheme. We’ll need to see what how that translates into those that go on to Friday, when the the process takes the next step and people can start sponsoring individuals,” they said.
“Certainly we would absolutely keep that under review and if there is about how we make best use of the generosity of the British public.
The Prime Minister also praised the “incredibly brave” actions of a Russian producer Marina Ovsyannikova who interrupted a news broadcast on the Putin-backed Channel One channel to protest the war.
“This was an incredibly brave act by this producer and the Prime Minister wants to pay tribute to all of those in Russia for standing up to Putin’s campaign of violence,” the PM’s spokesperson said.
“It’s an illustration that there are a significant proportion of the people of Russia who do not believe this war is in their name and our are incredibly bravely standing up to make that clear.”
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