Boris Johnson pledges new military assistance to Ukraine after UK PM’s surprise visit to Kyiv
Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer paid separate visits to Zelensky on Saturday, the latest in a series of leaders to visit the country during the ongoing Russian invasion.
A photograph tweeted by the Ukrainian Embassy in the UK showed Johnson seated across from Zelensky at a table in a pink and green stucco room. The post was captioned with the word “Surprise” and a blinking face emoji.
The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine’s press service said on its official Twitter account that the two leaders held talks in Kyiv, posting several photos of the couple’s unannounced meeting.
Johnson posted on Twitter that his visit to Kyiv was “a demonstration of our unwavering support for the Ukrainian people” and announced a new financial and military aid package.
“Ukraine defied odds and pushed Russian forces back from the gates of kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” the British prime minister said in a statement.
He hailed Zelensky’s “resolute leadership” and the “invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people”, adding that the UK “stands unwaveringly by their side in this ongoing fight…we are in it for the long term”.
Later in his nightly speech posted on social media, Zelensky thanked Britain and Johnson.
“Boris was one of those who had no doubts about supporting Ukraine. Britain’s leadership in defense aid to our country, as well as leadership in the policy of sanctions, will always go down in history.
“Ukraine will always be grateful to Boris and Britain for that,” Zelensky said.
At the press conference, Johnson said the UK would continue to step up sanctions against Russia. Johnson also said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions had dealt a “deep blow” to his reputation and to the Russian government.
“We will influence Russia’s ability to use its energy resources,” he added. “War determines Ukraine’s vision of the future, so our partners and I will provide Ukraine with equipment, technology, intelligence so that Ukraine will never face the horrors of invasion and blackmailing.”
After the meeting, Downing Street said the British government would provide armored vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, “in addition to the £100 million worth of high-quality military equipment” announced on Friday.
Zelensky and Nehammer’s meeting was separate from the one with Johnson and took place earlier on Saturday, according to Zelensky’s official Telegram channel.
Nehammer said on Saturday that while his country is militarily neutral, “we understand that we have to help where injustice and war crimes are taking place.”
According to his office, Nehammer was due to meet Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, before returning to Austria on Saturday evening.
Nehammer said Bucha was “a place of war crimes”.
“We must bring these war crimes to the attention of the UN, and international justice must begin to investigate and combat these crimes,” he said during a press conference with Zelensky.
Johnson and Nehammer’s twin visits came a day after senior European Union officials visited Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell, the bloc’s top diplomat, traveled to Kyiv and Bucha on Friday, alongside Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger.
CNN’s Sarah Dean reported from Przemysl, Poland and Ivana Kottasova wrote in London. CNN’s James Frater, Radina Gigova, Alex Hardie, Tara John, Max Foster, Mariya Knight and Maija Ehlinger contributed reporting.