UK exports to India must not end up in Russia, promises PM Johnson

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – Boris Johnson has stated that he will remove loopholes to ensure that UK exports to India do not wind up being used in Russian weapons, despite the fact that he has acknowledged that the war in Ukraine might last until the end of next year, and that Russia may win.

The UK PM cautioned that Vladimir Putin was using a “grinding approach” in Ukraine. He spoke in Delhi at the end of a two-day visit, and hinted that the UK would help “backfill” countries like Poland if they sent heavy armament like tanks to Kyiv.

The Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) sent Johnson a report warning that India was one of the primary gateways for smuggling arms to Putin’s government.

They wanted to ensure that they kept it tight, he said, referring to the ban on shipping technical products to Russia. They will  make sure there are no loopholes of any type… and they will take steps to ensure that nothing goes through alternative avenues to Russia, he added.

The government declared that it will loosen arms export licencing conditions with New Delhi by awarding an open general export licence to India just hours before the Rusi report was published, touting increased defence cooperation as one of the gains from the prime minister’s two-day trip.

When asked about briefings from western intelligence officials predicting that the Ukraine conflict may drag on for months, possibly leading to a Russian victory, Johnson responded saying that the unfortunate thing was that it was a real possibility.

No matter what military advantages Putin might be able to bring to bear in the coming few months – and he admits it might be a lengthy period – Putin will not be able to win the spirit of the Ukrainian people, Johnson said, adding that Vladimir Putin was near to taking Mariupol.

He stated that the UK’s embassy in Kyiv would reopen next week, and he hinted that additional ministers would follow in his footsteps and visit the Ukrainian capital in the following weeks.

He also urged that the UK provide weapons to neighbouring countries that could offer guns to Ukraine. They were considering deploying tanks to Poland to assist them as they send some of their T72s (tanks) to Ukraine, the PM added.

When PM Johnson and PM Modi met for bilateral talks on Friday morning, they discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, told reporters that Johnson put “no pressure” on Modi over the issue.

Modi called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine and stressed the necessity of diplomacy in a joint statement with Johnson on Friday, he did not, however, criticise Russia which is India’s largest arms supplier.

India has voted no in several UN motions denouncing Russia and continues to import Russian oil.

Despite Western sanctions on Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Modi in Delhi this month and stated that the two countries would continue to find ways to trade.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.