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June 29, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine if he were a woman, Boris Johnson has claimed.

The UK prime minister said the "crazy, macho" invasion was a "perfect example of toxic masculinity" and he called for "more women in positions of power".

Mr Johnson's comments come ahead of a Nato meeting where allies will discuss how to respond to future threats.

At the summit in Madrid, he is set to call on fellow members of the defensive alliance to ramp up defence spending.

The UK's defence spending is projected to reach 2.3% of GDP - a key measure of the annual income of a country - this year as a result of defence industry investment and £1.3bn in military support for Ukraine, the government said.

All Nato members have committed to spend 2% of their GDP on defence, but In 2021, the 2% target had only been reached or exceeded by eight countries, including the US.

The spending target has been a source of tension within Nato in the past, with members pledging to work towards the 2% mark by 2024.

At Wednesday's Nato summit, Mr Johnson will say "over the next 10 years the threats around us are only going to grow".

"The 2% was always meant to be a floor, not a ceiling and allies must continue to step up in this time of crisis."

On Tuesday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace urged Mr Johnson to increase spending on the UK's armed forces even further, in light of the threat posed by Russia.

Mr Wallace told the BBC he was keen to have a "grown-up discussion" about how much the UK spends on defence and warned that the country could no longer bank on a "peace dividend".

He said this level of spending was justified, given the threat posed by Russia, which has demonstrated it "will take action against anyone or anybody".

Mr Wallace said "that is a clear part of their doctrine" and the West had underestimated President Putin.

"There is a phrase going around that Putin doesn't lie," Mr Wallace said. "Putin has said lots of threats and he often carries them out."

'Toxic masculinity'
Speaking after the G7 summit of wealthy nations in Bavaria, Mr Johnson gave an interview to German broadcaster ZDF.

While speaking about gender equality and the importance of education, he said "you need more women in positions of power".

"If Putin was a woman, which he obviously isn't, but if he were, I really don't think he would've embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has," Mr Johnson said.

"If you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it's what he's doing in Ukraine."

Mr Johnson's comments about Russia's president echo those he made during a roundtable discussion with G7 leaders at a meeting in Germany earlier this week.

The leaders mocked the macho portrayal of Mr Putin, with Mr Johnson jokingly suggesting they "show them our pecs" to prove "we're tougher than Putin".

In his interview with ZDF, Mr Johnson also said that while G7 leaders "desperately" want an end to the war in Ukraine, there is "no deal available" currently.

But he also described the summit as "incredible" as leaders "got closer and closer" to an agreement.

Mr Johnson said the West must support Ukraine's military strategy, in order to get President Volodymr Zelensky "in the best possible position" in negotiations with Russia "when talks eventually come".

The Nato meeting in Madrid comes after news that Turkey has reached a deal with prospective members Finland and Sweden, removing a final barrier to their joining.

Mr Johnson said Mr Putin had been "proved completely wrong" in his hopes to reduce Nato dominance as the two countries moved closer to joining the defence alliance.

Arriving at the summit, the PM said: "The first lesson is that if Vladimir Putin was hoping he would be getting less Nato on his western front as a result of his unprovoked, illegal invasion of Ukraine, he's been proved completely wrong - he's getting more Nato."

Source: CNBC
Image: UK Govt