Boris Johnson and the UK’s Security Legacy

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Aside from the chaos and scandal that characterised Boris Jhonson’s time in power, there is a deeper legacy of his tenure as Britain’s prime minister: He severely weakened his country’s place in the world.

In recent years relations between London and the Kremlin have deteriorated. Political assassinations and poisonings, Crimea, Eastern Ukraine and hybrid threats are just a few of the issues that have marked relations between the two countries.

The prime minister of the country did nothing to improve the situation, he simply followed an undefined tactic. On the one hand he blamed Moscow and on the other he kept the line of communication open. 

At the beginning of this month, Johnson admitted for the first time that he met ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev at an Italian palazzo without officials present in April 2018, when he was foreign secretary.

During the late cold war period, Alexander Lebedev was posted as a spy in London in 1988. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he went into business but never tried to hide his KGB past.

Ukraine loves Boris

The world was shocked when photos of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky surfaced in April this year.

Johnson’s high-profile visit and tour of Kyiv, whose recordings have been viewed millions of times online, was a political victory for Britain’s struggling prime minister as well as a tremendous propaganda win for the president of Ukraine. 

According to a survey conducted on June 28 and released by UK peer Lord Ashcroft, Johnson has a 90 percent favorability rating among Ukrainians, making him the most well-liked foreign politician there, only Volodymyr Zelenskyy had a higher rating.

Notably, Johnson’s survey score was more than twice as high as that of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Johnson’s many critics in the UK accused him of using the war in Ukraine to distract attention from his mounting domestic woes. There may well be some truth in such claims, but it is fair to say that Ukrainian audiences do not care. 

After three decades of often eye-wateringly corrupt post-Soviet politics, they are inclined to assume a degree of self-interest and see nothing wrong with Johnson benefiting politically from his support for Ukraine.

Hybrid threats

Russi’s relationship with the UK has changed under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership in line with a broader strategic evolution combining foreign, military and security policy; diplomacy; and informational and technical capabilities.

The fallout from the Skripal poisonings – a former officer with Russia’s GRU military spy agency, was poisoned in Salisbury, together with his daughter Yulia. in 2018 demonstrates how certain foreign policy agendas have received support in the U.K.

Both RT and Sputnik reported on the case using a variety of official sources from Russia and Britain, including mainstream media, law enforcement, medical professionals and politicians.

According to recent cyber security statistics, data breaches and cyberattacks are on the rise in the UK, and both the public and private sectors are largely unprepared for such occurrences.

According to a study by privacy researchers at VPN comparison site VPN Overview, local councils all over the country have been affected by a wave of ransomware and data breaches, with East Sussex, Hampshire County, and Gloucestershire County alone experiencing more than 2,000 data breaches in 2020 and 2021.

The former chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, stated that recent data breaches are an “increasing trend” whose pace “shows little indication of stopping” during a speech to introduce the government’s Cyber Security Strategy earlier this year.

Hong Kong and China

President Xi Jinping hailed China’s rule of Hong Kong on Friday as he led 25th anniversary celebrations of the city’s handover from Britain and insisted that democracy was thriving despite a political crackdown that has silenced dissent..

It is a matter of prestige for the UK to ensure the smooth and democratic transition of its former colonies. A national security law passed in 2020 as well as electoral amendments that, in Britain’s opinion, weaken Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy have drawn particular criticism.

The Chinese foreign ministry charged that the UK was still operating with a colonial mentality while stressing that Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs.

“Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong and no external force has the right to interfere. The United Kingdom has no right of sovereignty, governance, or supervision over post-handover Hong Kong, and the so-called commitments do not exist at all,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a regular news briefing.

 

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