Ukraine: UK to send armoured vehicles after Boris Johnson meets President Zelensky in Kyiv

The British Prime Minster travelled to Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has travelled to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky today (9 April).

Johnson’s visit to Ukraine, which had not been announced prior to his arrival, was revealed in a Twitter post by the Embassy of Ukraine to the UK.

The post simply read: “surprise” followed by a winking emoji, and contained an image of Johnson and Zelensky sitting opposite each other at a table.

Johnson is reported to have flown by plane to Poland before travelling overnight by train to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

Following the meeting Downing Street announced that Britain is to send 120 armoured vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems to support Ukraine.

Have Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelensky met before?

The leaders previously met for talks at the 2022 Munich Security Conference on 19 February this year, five days before Russian president Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine.

Both Johnson and Zelensky have been in contact since the invasion began, and Zelensky addressed the House of Commons on 8 March, receiving a standing ovation from MPs.

Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference in February

What have they discussed?

In a tweet after the meeting, Boris Johnson wrote: “Today I met my friend President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv as a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.

“We're setting out a new package of financial & military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country's struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign.”

Before the meeting, a No 10 spokesman said the Prime Minister was using the unannounced visit to set out a new package of financial and military aid.

“The Prime Minister has travelled to Ukraine to meet President Zelensky in person, in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” the spokesman said.

“They will discuss the UK’s long term support to Ukraine and the PM will set out a new package of financial and military aid.”

Earlier today, Johnson tweeted: “Britain and Germany are horrified by Putin’s invasion and have agreed that our two countries must go further to help Ukraine.

“The UK will send more defensive weapons to Ukraine and will work with G7 partners to target every pillar of the Russian economy to ensure Putin fails.”

Have other world leaders visited Ukraine?

On 16 March, the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic undertook a risky train journey into Kyiv to meet with Zelensky.

Kyiv was a key Russian target from the start of the invasion on 24 February, but in recent days Russian forces withdrew from the city following strong resistance from Ukraine.

When did the invasion of Ukraine start?

The invasion is now in its seventh week, having begun on 24 February, and has reportedly led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, and the displacement of millions more.

In Makariv, roughly 40 miles west of Kyiv, 132 civilians were found to have been shot and killed on the same day that Johnson traveled to meet Zelensky.

The invasion has caused the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War.