Boris Johnson meets Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky during surprise visit to Kyiv


Boris Johnson has offered to launch a major training operation for Ukrainian forces.


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

Johnson, who survived a vote of no confidence earlier this month, was greeted by Zelensky as a “great friend” and posted a photo of himself with the Ukrainian president, with the words “Mr. President, Volodymyr, it’s 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 troops every 120 days at the meeting, his office said.

“My visit today, deep into this war, is to send a clear and simple message to the people of Ukraine: the UK is with you, and we will be with you until you finally win. “, Johnson said.

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“That is why I have proposed to President Zelensky a major new military training program that could change the equation of this war – by harnessing the most powerful of forces, Ukraine’s determination to win.”

The unannounced trip was Johnson’s latest show of support for Zelensky since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, but could have come at the expense of his own lawmakers.

Some were angry after he canceled a conference appearance in the north of England, where some Tories won traditionally Labor-friendly parliamentary seats for the first time in 2019.

The trip also came a day after the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited Kyiv and endorsed Ukraine’s candidate status for membership in the European Union.

‘Shared Vision’

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

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He and Johnson discussed the state of play on the front line and the need to increase supplies of heavy weapons and strengthen Ukrainian air defenses, Zelensky said in a brief statement delivered next to Johnson.

“We have a common vision of the way forward to victory because that’s exactly what Ukraine needs – victory for our state,” Zelensky said.

Johnson said in his statement, “We are here once again to emphasize that we are here with you to give you the strategic stamina you will need.”

He said that would include helping to step up sanctions against Russia and rally diplomatic support for Ukraine.

Johnson, who faces political pressure at home, gained popularity in Ukraine as Britain lent military and political support to Kyiv during the Russian invasion.

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A cafe in Kyiv sells an apple dessert named Borys Dzhonsonyuk, a Ukrainian version of the prime minister’s name.

Zelensky and Johnson laid wreaths at a memorial to fallen Ukrainian soldiers, then were taken to tour destroyed Russian military equipment laid out in a central plaza, footage released by the Ukrainian president’s office showed.

Life in Kyiv is gradually resuming since Russia withdrew its forces from around the Ukrainian capital, but air raid sirens are still sounding regularly and a Russian missile strike hit the suburbs on June 5.

The new military training program would train Ukrainian forces outside the country, Johnson’s office said. Each soldier would spend three weeks learning combat skills for the frontline, as well as basic medical training, cybersecurity and anti-explosives tactics, he said.

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