Johnson meets Zelensky on surprise trip to Kyiv

Published June 18, 2022
KYIV: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons at Mykhailivska Square on Friday.—Reuters
KYIV: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons at Mykhailivska Square on Friday.—Reuters

KYIV: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered to launch a military training programme for Ukrainian forces on Friday as he met President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on his second trip to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s invasion.

Johnson, who survived a no confidence vote earlier this month, was greeted by Zelenskiy as a “great friend” and posted a picture of himself with the Ukrainian president, with the words “Mr President, Volodymyr, It is good to be in Kyiv again”.

Johnson offered to launch a major training operation for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days at the meeting, his office said.

“My visit today, in the depths of this war, is to send a clear and simple message to the Ukrainian people: the UK is with you, and we will be with you until you ultimately prevail,” Johnson said.

“That is why I have offered President Zelensky a major new military training programme that could change the equation of this war harnessing that most powerful of forces, the Ukrainian determination to win.”

The unannounced trip was Johnson’s latest show of support for Zelenskiy since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

It came a day after the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania travelled to Kyiv and endorsed Ukraine’s candidate status to join the European Union.

“Many days of this war have proved that Great Britain’s support for Ukraine is firm and resolute. Glad to see our country’s great friend Boris Johnson in Kyiv again,” Zelensky said.

He and Johnson discussed the state of play at the front line and the need to ramp up supplies of heavy weapons and to build up Ukrainian air defences, Zelensky said in a short statement delivered next to Johnson.

“We have a shared vision of how to move towards victory because that it is exactly what Ukraine needs — the victory of our state,” Zelensky said.

Published in Dawn,June 18th, 2022

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