Vladimir Putin was probably pretty pleased with Brexit, says Alexander Mühlauer in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. It contributed to one of his biggest long-term aims – the division of Europe. “But now Putin, of all people, is ensuring that London is getting closer to Brussels again.” His war of aggression against Ukraine has reminded Britain how closely its security is linked with that of the EU. Since the invasion began, Britain and Europe have been exchanging secret intelligence nonstop, and their economic sanctions are “closely coordinated with each other”. The Brexit illusion of “Global Britain” – a plan to turn away from the continent and focus on the Indo-Pacific – has been replaced by geographic realities.
To his credit, Boris Johnson has been leading the charge here. We’ve heard nothing from him about the dispute with the EU over Northern Ireland, or the “fishing conflicts with France”. He has taken a resolute stance over Ukraine, providing early weapons shipments and lobbying the West to ban Russian banks from the Swift payments system. That said, Britain currently has fewer than half the number of oligarchs on its sanctions list than the EU has. “Johnson wouldn’t be Johnson if he didn’t run the risk of promising more than he can deliver.”