British Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded to criticisms that the UK was not allowing enough Ukrainians who fled the war, saying the country is processing thousands of applications.
“I can’t give you the number. We’re processing thousands right now,” Johnson said.
“We will continue to make sure that we have a very, very generous approach,” he added in a pooled interview.
Johnson said the EU has a “border-free zone” and the UK has a “different system.”
“And I think it’s sensible, given what’s going on in Ukraine, to make sure that we have some basic ability to check who’s coming in and who isn’t.”
Reminding that the UK has allowed more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan and 104,000 others from Hong Kong since he has been in the office, Johnson said “what we want, though, is control and we want to be able to have checks.”
Johnson’s response followed reports of criticism that the UK has so far allowed only 50 Ukrainians and many others are waiting at the French coastal city of Calais.
Putin tries creating raft with the West
Johnson also accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to characterize what’s going on in Ukraine “as a struggle between the West and Russia.”
“It suits his agenda to say that the UK, that we in NATO countries, are anti-Russia, European countries are now anti-Russian,” he said.
“It’s very, very, very important that we get the message over that we’re not anti-Russian, we’re not against Russians. Our quarrel is simply with the regime and the aggression of Vladimir Putin,” he added.
“We must not play Putin’s game and somehow turn this into a witch hunt against every Russian in the UK,” Johnson warned. “It’s absolutely vital we focus on what Putin is doing and we call them out for what he’s doing.”
We must ‘do more’
The British premier argued that Putin is “going for this really unrestrained attack on cities, now that he’s attacking civilians in the way that he is, I think we’ve got to recognize that we’ve got to do more on sanctions.”
“There is more we can do and more that I think we should do,” he said, adding that the world can do more on SWIFT and banking sanctions.
“And I think that there is more to be done on sanctioning individuals. So that’s why we’re bringing in the measures under the economic crime bill today and targeting individuals as well.”
Johnson is meeting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau in London to discuss the latest situation in Ukraine, humanitarian aid efforts and new sanctions targeting Putin’s regime.
The war on Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow and spurred an exodus of global companies from the country.