Putin did not expect this – opinion

If there is one turning point in recent Western European history that Vladimir Putin must have liked, it is Brexit. After all, the British exit from the EU is a symbol of what the Russian president wants: the division of Europe. But the hope in Moscow that Brexit would not only drive a wedge between the remaining EU countries, but also destabilize NATO, has not been fulfilled. The chasm between Britain and mainland Europe may have widened, but now Putin, of all people, is making sure that London gets closer to Brussels again.

With his war of aggression against Ukraine, the Russian president has shown the British government how closely intertwined security policy interests are with those of the EU. Since Putin’s invasion, Britain and the EU countries have gone in the same direction. Secret service information is exchanged immediately, economic sanctions are closely coordinated with each other and, of course, also with the US. The Western allies act as one, they have a common enemy: the ruler in Moscow.

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Johnson and his ministers must realize that Britain is firmly anchored in Europe

For the British government, Putin’s war means moving away from the illusions that Brexit has fueled. “Global Britain,” that is, the plan to separate somewhat from Europe economically and in terms of security policy and orient more towards the Indo-Pacific, no longer plays a role. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team of ministers are going through a process of political purging these days. He must realize that Britain’s place in the world is clearly Europe, and not just geographically.

Johnson shouldn’t have much of an issue with that realization. It is not without reason that it is considered to be extremely versatile. And so it is not difficult for him to revive the almost lost British pragmatism that characterized many of his predecessors. Johnson currently wants nothing to do with fishing conflicts with France. He does not want to further fuel the dispute over Northern Ireland. He wants, at least from now on, to pursue a policy that is guided by real political constraints, not ideological fantasies.

However, it would be foolish to assume that this will continue to be the case. Johnson is not afraid to change his anti-EU stance when he finds it useful domestically. So if the Partygate affair blows up again and knocks Putin’s war out of the headlines, Johnson will do whatever it takes to save his own skin. Basically, he is concerned with being impregnable within the party. His resolute attitude towards Putin is helping him in this regard. Examples include the first arms shipments to Ukraine and Johnson’s efforts to ban Russian banks from Swift’s payment network.

But Johnson wouldn’t be Johnson if he didn’t run the risk of over-promising. For example, there is the fight against Putin’s oligarch friends. There are more than 25 names on the EU sanctions list and less than half on the UK list. So there is increasing pressure on the British public to get closer to the EU on this issue as well. One can only say: Just do it. In the common interest.

Jamie Franklin

"Troublemaker. Typical travel fan. Food fanatic. Award-winning student. Organizer. Entrepreneur. Bacon specialist."

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