Boris Johnson likened Vladimir Putin to “the fat boy in Dickens” who wants to make our flesh creep as he attended an event alongside Volodymyr Zelensky.
The former prime minister made the reference at a breakfast meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos as he insisted Russia’s leader would not use nuclear weapons.
It was standing room only at the event involving Mr. Johnson and the president of Ukraine, who was attending virtually.
Mr Johnson said the focus must totally be on helping Ukraine and not trying to second guess Russia’s next move.
He said: “It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen in UK politics let alone the Kremlin”.
Also attending the event were Larry Fink, David Solomon, Mark Rutte and Chrystia Freeland. Liam Fox was sitting on Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko’s table.
Read the latest updates below.
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Putin is ‘not going to use nuclear weapons’ insists Johnson
Boris Johnson was lifting a line from the Pickwick Papers as he described Vladimir Putin as the “fat boy in Dickens” over his threat of nuclear war.
Economics editor Su Ping Chan is in the room in Davos:
He said: “We should not get into this whole business of presenting the war as a nuclear standoff between NATO and Russia.”
He described this narrative as “nonsense”, adding: “He’s not going to use nuclear weapons.”
Lifting a line from the Pickwick Papers, Mr Johnson said: “He wants to make our flesh creep. He wants us to think about it. He’s never going to do it.”
He says that following through would put the world into complete paralysis.
He added: “The Chinese would turn massively against him, and he would terrify the Russians. He’s not going to do it so don’t go down that rabbit hole.”
It was standing room only as Boris Johnson spoke at a breakfast meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning.
The former prime minister insisted Vladimir Putin was not serious about the threat of nuclear war at the session attended virtually by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr Johnson said that going nuclear would turn the Chinese and Russian population against him.
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What happened overnight
Asian stocks opened lower on Thursday as concern over economic growth overshadowed optimism that central banks will slow policy tightening.
Hong Kong equities led declines, with notable weakness in tech companies, and Japanese shares were also decisively lower. Futures for the S&P 500 dropped after the benchmark closed down 1.6pc on Wednesday, the biggest decline in a month.
Tokyo shares also declined, with the Nikkei 225 index falling 1.10pc to 26,495.26 in early trade and the broader Topix index losing 0.90pc to 1,917.52.
The dollar stood at 128.41 yen, slipping from 128.80 yen in New York overnight.
Meanwhile, New Zealand stocks largely shook off news that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will step down next month, falling just 0.1pc.