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Boris Johnson compares Ukraine war to Brexit battles

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared the invasion of Ukraine by Russia to the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016.

He argued both examples showed countries’ willingness to fight for their freedom.

“I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time,” Johnson said at the Conservative Party Conference Saturday.

“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large numbers, I don’t believe it was that they were remotely hostile to foreigners,” he said. “It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”

Johnson reiterated the U.K.’s support to the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia’s aggression. He said the economic sanctions taken against Russia have a “cost” but that “the cost of doing nothing would be far, far higher.”

The prime minister also said “it is the invincible strength of this country that we believe, by and large and within the law, that people should be able to do whatever they want providing they don’t do harm to anyone else. That’s called freedom.”

The prime minister suggested that the U.K.’s freedom was appealing to people escaping the war in Ukraine or political oppression in Russia. “We just want to be free, and that’s why talented people are fleeing Russia right now,” he said.

“That’s Putin’s tragedy. There’s a sense in which his disastrous error in Ukraine is itself an argument for democracy and freedom.”

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