Boris Johnson visits Ukraine: why has outgoing prime minister made surprise visit - when does he leave office?

Boris Johnson made a surprise appearance in Ukraine only a few days before he is due to leave office and is replaced by Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss

Outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson has made a surprise visit to Ukraine.

Mr Johnson landed in Kyiv on 24 August to coincide with Ukraine’s Independence Day.

The symbolic day is an annual event which marks the country leaving the Soviet Union in 1991, but has become particularly symbolic in 2022 as it marks exactly six months since Vladimir Putin’s Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Johnson has developed a close relationship with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the country of Ukraine since the conflict broke out, with the Ukrainian leader often singling out the UK for its support.

Outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson has made a surprise visit to Kyiv in the last few weeks of his leadership. (Credit: PA)

What has Boris Johnson said about his trip to Ukraine?

Tweeting about his visit, Mr Johnson said that his trip to Ukraine before leaving office was to that the UK will “continue to stand” with the country.

He said: “What happens in Ukraine matters to us all.

“That is why I am in Kyiv today. That is why the UK will continue to stand with our Ukrainian friends.

“I believe Ukraine can and will win this war.”

Additionally, ahead of Mr Johnson leaving office, he was awarded the Order of Liberty, Ukraine’s highest award for foreign nationals.

What did Boris Johnson commit to in Ukraine?

Mr Johnson used his visit to announce a new support package for the country.

A new £54million package will see unmanned surveillance and missile systems delivered to Ukraine, including 2,000 state-of-the-art drones and 850 hand-launched mini-drones.

Mr Johnson said: “For the past six months, the United Kingdom has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, supporting this sovereign country to defend itself from this barbaric and illegal invader.

“Today’s package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian armed forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom.

Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelensky met once again during the UK prime minister’s surprise visit. (Credit: PA)

“What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.”

When does Boris Johnson leave office?

The trip is likely to be Mr Johnson last piece of official state business before he steps down as prime minister in September.

He announced that he was to stand down on 7 July 2022, after more than 50 MPs resigned from their parliamentary roles to put pressure on Mr Johnson to resign.

At the time, president Zelensky paid tribute to his ally, saying: “We all heard this news with sadness.

“Not only me, but also the entire Ukrainian society, which is very sympathetic to you.

“We have no doubt that Great Britain’s support will be preserved, but your personal leadership and charisma made it special.”

Despite announcing his resignation on 7 July, Mr Johnson has stayed on as a caretaker prime minister until a successor is announced.

Either Foreign Minister Liz Truss or former Chancellor Rishi Sunak will take over, with the official handover expected to take place on 5 September.