The West has let Putin get away with bad behaviour for way too long. On Friday, it was revealed that 131 people might have been exposed to Novichok nerve gas. Boris Johnson explains below why we have to stand up to bullies like the Russians.
In a Sun exclusive, Boris wrote: On Friday it emerged that 131 innocent people may have been exposed to the Novichok nerve agent.
People ask me: Why us? Why did the Russian state choose to carry out this heinous act in Britain?
Of all the opponents of Vladimir Putin living around the world, why target Sergei Skripal in Salisbury?
The answer is that Britain is not alone in facing Russia’s reckless behaviour.
This latest brazen defiance of international rules is part of a pattern of behaviour — from the Crimea annexation, cyber attacks in Ukraine to the hacking of the Bundestag and Russian interference in European elections.
But the nature of our response says much about our country and its standing in the world.
We have consistently taken a strong and principled stand against the Kremlin, and galvanised the international response.
When Putin grabbed Crimea in 2014 and ignited the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine, it was British diplomacy that persuaded the EU to impose sanctions.
When Putin sent his warplanes to join the blood-soaked campaign of the Assad dictatorship against the Syrian people, it was Britain who condemned his actions.
When Putin tried to cover up Assad’s repeated use of chemical weapons, it was our diplomats who ensured an international inquiry exposed how the Syrian regime was gassing its people.
And when Nato asked for troops to guard our most vulnerable allies against Russia, it was Britain who sent 800 soldiers to protect Estonia.
Whenever Putin has threatened his neighbours or trampled on the basic rules of a peaceful world, Britain has called him out.
Part of being a strong and self-confident country — a Global Britain with interests and influence all around the world — is that we must have the resolve to stand up for our values.
We knew there would be risks in opposing the Kremlin — resisting a bully is always risky.
But we did it anyway because we knew it to be right.
So I believe that what happened in Salisbury was, at least in part, the Kremlin’s way of hitting back at Britain for standing firm against its appalling behaviour.
Something else has been hugely encouraging since the attack — the overwhelming sense of unity between Parliament, the Government and the British people.
The outrage over what the Kremlin has done, and the determination to back the Government’s strong response, spans the floor of the Commons.
I pay tribute to the many Labour MPs who have condemned Putin.
On the Government front bench and on backbenches on both sides there is a shared awareness that national unity is our greatest strength.
Alas the only person who has refused to join this show of solidarity is Jeremy Corbyn.
He let down his party and country by seemingly aiding the efforts of the Russian propaganda machine by casting doubt over what is obvious to any objective onlooker.
However I refuse to dwell on the disappointing, if all-too-predictable, response from Mr Corbyn.
Instead I would prefer to focus on the support Britain has received from friends across the world.
President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany and President Trump of the US have voiced horror over Salisbury, and named the Russian state as the perpetrator.
Hour by hour, the Foreign Office receives more statements of support from our allies.
Yesterday the Kremlin said it would close the British Council and our Consulate in St Petersburg.
These futile measures will only punish ordinary Russians by depriving them of harmless opportunities to learn English and apply for UK visas.
Today Russia stands alone and isolated.
That fact demonstrates the most telling difference between Britain and Putin: we have friends across the world and he does not.