Russian officials lined up to celebrate the downfall of Boris Johnson on Thursday, with a leading tycoon casting the British leader as a “stupid clown” who had finally got his just reward for arming Ukraine against Russia.
Johnson was expected to announce his resignation after he was abandoned by ministers and his Conservative Party’s lawmakers who said he was no longer fit to govern. The Kremlin said it too was no fan of the British leader, whose parents named him Boris after a White Russian emigre.
“He doesn’t like us, we don’t like him either,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. He said reports that Johnson would shortly resign as prime minister were of little concern for the Kremlin.
Other Russians were more brutal.
Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska said on Telegram that it was an “inglorious end” for a “stupid clown” whose conscience would be blighted by “tens of thousands of lives in this senseless conflict in Ukraine”.
Maria Zakharova, the top spokeswoman in Russia’s foreign ministry, said Johnson’s fall was a symptom of the decline of the West, which she said was riven by political, ideological and economic crisis.
“The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia,” Zakharova said. “Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it – and then choke on them.”
Even before President Vladimir Putin ordered the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Johnson had repeatedly criticised Putin – casting him as a ruthless and possibly irrational Kremlin chief who was imperiling the world with his crazy ambitions.
After the invasion, Johnson made Britain one of the biggest Western supporters of Ukraine, sending weapons, slapping some of the most severe sanctions in modern history on Russia and urging Ukraine to defeat Russia’s vast armed forces.
Such was Johnson’s support of Ukraine that he was affectionately known as “Borys Johnsoniuk” by some in Kyiv. He sometimes ended his speeches with “Slava Ukraini” – or “glory to Ukraine”.
Johnson, the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign who won a resounding electoral victory in 2019 before leading the United Kingdom out of the European Union, even spoke stilted Russian in February, telling the Russian people that he did not believe the “needless and bloody” war was in their name.
Russia repeatedly dismissed him as a poorly prepared jester trying to punch far beyond Britain‘s true weight.
Zakharova gleefully portrayed him as the author of his own downfall.
“Boris Johnson was hit by a boomerang launched by himself,” she said. “His comrades-in-arms turned him in.”