Theresa May and Boris Johnson step up diplomatic war of words with Russia

Written by Tom Freeman and Liz Bates on 22 March 2018 in News

Boris Johnson compares Russia world cup with Nazi Olympics in 1936, while Theresa May describes Putin as a threat to Europe

Boris Johnson - PA

Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have stepped up the war of words with Russia in the wake of the nerve agent attack on a former spy in Salisbury.

May is in Brussels today for talks with European leaders, and is seeking unanimous condemnation of the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Russia has denied it is behind the attack.

Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson compared this summer's world cup in Russia with Nazi Germany hosting the Olympics in 1936.

Addressing EU leaders, May is expected to say: "The challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come.

"As a European democracy the United Kingdom will stand shoulder to shoulder with the European Union and with Nato to face these threats together. United, we will succeed."

Speaking to MPs yesterday, Johnson was asked by Labour MP Ian Austin whether Vladimir Putin would use the international football competition as a propaganda coup as Adolf Hitler had done with the Olympics in Germany in 1936.

Johnson replied: "I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right and I think it’s an emetic prospect, frankly, to think of Putin glorying in this sporting event".

Last night a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said Johnson was “poisoned with venom of hate, unprofessionalism and boorishness”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump were among world leaders to congratulate Vladimir Putin in winning a fourth six-year term as Russian President.

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