CND has called on Boris Johnson to “get real about nuclear disarmament” after he dismissed Russia’s nuclear threats in favour of sending more heavy weapons to Ukraine. 

Johnson told an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the west should call Russia’s bluff when it came to nuclear weapons, and send battle tanks to Ukraine’s military. “Nonsense…He’s not going to use nuclear weapons,” the former prime minister said. 

He added that any nuclear use by Russia would see the country enter a “cryogenic paralysis” and isolate Moscow from countries like China and India. 

Johnson’s comments come as the UK government announced its latest military package for Ukraine, which includes 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks. The UK government has also called on Germany to donate its Leopard 2 tanks, and to allow other countries who have purchased the German tank to forward them to Ukraine. A announcement is expected on this support on Friday.

While no longer in cabinet, Johnson’s tenure as PM saw Britain greatly increase nuclear tensions and reverse three decades of gradual nuclear arms reduction. In 2021, his government announced it would increase the ceiling on its nuclear warhead stockpile by over 40 percent. A legal opinion sought by CND found that this decision was in clear breach of Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – and went against nuclear reduction efforts by the US and Russia.

A report published by the Nuclear Information Service in August 2022 – a month after Johnson announced his resignation – also found that Britain’s decision to develop new nuclear warheads appeared to be based on a political desire to not be “apologetic” for Britain’s nuclear weapons. The cost of replacing Britain’s nuclear weapons is estimated to be at least £205 billion.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “Boris Johnson’s government repeatedly showed disdain for international treaties – showcased in the 2021 decision to increase Britain’s nuclear stockpile.  Now that the threat of nuclear war is at an all time high, he talks flippantly about this prospect without any consideration for the horrific realities it would entail. Rather than goading Russia, Johnson should drop the cavalier attitude and get real about nuclear disarmament.”