PM Johnson visits Kyiv; Pledges Aid and Weapons to Ukraine
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv on April 9, with a pledge to deliver armored vehicles and weapons, as well as increase lending to support Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia.
On Saturday, April 9, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine to meet with President Zelensky. Johnson’s trip came a day after he announced that the UK would provide $130 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine. Pictured walking down the battle-weary streets of Kyiv alongside the Ukrainian President, PM Johnson’s visit underscored his country’s role as Europe’s most enthusiastic supporter of Ukraine.
Coinciding with PM Johnson’s arrival in Ukraine, Downing Street issued a statement promising 120 armored vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems to support Ukraine’s war efforts against Russia. The UK also guaranteed an additional $500 million in World Bank lending to Ukraine, subject to parliamentary approval. If authorized, this would take the country’s total loan guarantee to around $1 billion.
PM Johnson addressed the media after his meeting with President Zelensky, showering praises on his Ukrainian counterpart: “I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, and you Volodymyr have given the roar of that lion.” Zelensky in turn conveyed gratitude toward PM Johnson for the “direct, very clear and specific position of your wonderful and powerful country,” anointing him Ukraine’s “most sincere friend.”
Boris Johnson vowed to intensify sanctions on Russia – “not just freezing assets in banks and sanctioning oligarchs but moving away from the use of Russian hydrocarbons.” He also promised Britain’s help with clearing mines left behind by Russian forces. “Together with friends and partners, we [will] supply the equipment, the technology, the know-how, the intelligence, so that Ukraine will never be invaded again… so that [the country] is so fortified and so protected that [it]can never be bullied again…”
Since the start of Ukraine’s war with Russia, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been in regular contact with President Zelensky, talking to him over the phone and establishing close ties. Last month, Zelensky was invited to address the House of Commons by video conference, the first of his many defiant and poignant virtual speeches delivered to foreign parliaments.
Several other Western politicians have also travelled to Kyiv to showcase their support to Ukraine and President Zelensky, including Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. However, Boris Johnson is the most prominent national dignitary to have visited since the start of the war. Zelensky’s chief diplomatic adviser said it was “very important for Ukrainians to see leaders like Boris Johnson come to their homeland,” asserting that “every visit, every phone call, every act of support counts and brings us to victory.” Indeed, Boris Johnson’s visit has set the stage for other Western leaders to follow his example, as reports suggest that the United States is also considering sending a high level official to Kyiv.
Prime Minister Johnson’s trip to Ukraine concluded a noteworthy week for his government, which began with the news that the AUKUS alliance has agreed to cooperate on hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons, as well as electronic warfare capabilities. This decision represents an important expansion of AUKUS’ previous focus on nuclear-powered submarines. It highlights the concern shared by Western powers about bolstering European security, amidst the looming shadow of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.