Boris Johnson Makes 2nd Surprise Visit to Kyiv Since Russian Invasion Began

Boris Johnson Makes 2nd Surprise Visit to Kyiv Since Russian Invasion Began
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets President Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 17, 2022. (UK Prime Minister’s Office)
Alexander Zhang

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a surprise visit to Kyiv to hold face-to-face talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the second such visit since the Russian invasion began in February.

On Friday afternoon, Johnson posted a photograph of himself with Zelenskyy on Twitter, adding: “Mr. President, Volodymyr, it is good to be in Kyiv again.”

A message on Zelenskyy’s Telegram account read: “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.”

According to Downing Street, the prime minister told Zelenskyy that the UK is prepared to launch a major operation to train up to 120,000 Ukrainian troops every 120 days.

Number 10 said international partners would be invited to host the programme, if the offer is accepted by Ukraine.

In a statement, Johnson 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.

“As Ukrainian soldiers fire UK missiles in defence of your nation’s sovereignty, they do so also in defence of the very freedoms we take for granted.

“That is why I have offered President Zelenskyy 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.”

Johnson’s first war-time visit to Kyiv came in April, as Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted the focus of his campaign to the eastern Donbass region.

Johnson said: “Two months on from my last visit, the Ukrainian grit, determination, and resilience is stronger than ever, and I know that unbreakable resolve will long outlive the vain ambitions of President Putin.”

The visit came a day after Zelenskyy was visited by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who had been criticized in the past by Ukrainian officials for not providing enough support.

The UK has become one of Ukraine’s most important allies in the country’s resistance against the Russian invasion, providing both advanced weaponry and humanitarian aid.

Britain was the first European country to send lethal aid to Ukraine and has sent military aid worth more than £750 million ($924 million), including thousands of anti-tank missiles, air defence systems, and armoured vehicles, according to the government.

On May 7, the UK government pledged £1.3 billion ($1.6 billion) worth of further military support to Ukraine.

The UK recently announced it would gift M270 multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukrainian forces to help them defend themselves from Russian long-range artillery.

PA Media contributed to this report.