Ukraine war: Boris Johnson makes surprise visit to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
The British Prime Minister has told Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK would be preapred to launch a major operation to train forces in Ukraine
The trip marks the second time Mr Johnson has visited the Ukrainian capital since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
In a tweet posted by the Prime Minister, he said it was “good to be in Kyiv again”..
What did Boris Johnson say on his trip to Kyiv?
During his meeting with Mr Zelensky, Mr Johnson committed to training Ukrainian forces if needed for the fightback against Russia.
He told the Ukrainian leader that the UK would be willing to train up to 120,000 troops every 120 days.
A statement from the Prime Minister said: “My visit today, in the depths of this war, is to send a clear and simple message to the Ukrainian people: the UK is with you and we will be with you until you ultimately prevail.
“As Ukrainian soldiers fire UK missiles in defence of your nation’s sovereignty, they do so also in defence of the very freedoms we take for granted.
“That is why I have offered President Zelensky a major new military training programme that could change the equation of this war – harnessing that most powerful of forces, the Ukrainian determination to win.”
Downing Street has not given any estimate of the cost of the operation, and has said that the training programme was only an offer at the time being.
If accepted by Mr Zelensky, further details on cost and how the training operation will work will be released, although it is expected to take place outside of Ukraine.
However, officials at Downing Street also noted that Operation Orbital - a training operation provided to Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 - had trained 22,000 Ukrainian military personnel.
In a televsied press conference Mr Johnson added that it was “great” to be back in the Ukrainian capital before turning his attention to the civilians of the country.
He said: “We continue to see the deliberate targeting of civilians, what is unquestionably a war crime, and in a hideous echo of the past the illegal deportation of people that the Russian forces believe are insufficiently sympathetic to Putin’s aggression.”
Mr Johnson had cancelled an expected appearance at a red wall conference of Tory MPs in Doncaster before travelling to Kyiv this morning.
Organisers were said to be “mystified” by the cancellation but were assured that there was a “good reason” of “sufficient significance” that led to Mr Johnson pulling out of the event.
What has Ukraine said about Boris Johnson’s trip?
A message on Mr Zelensky’s Telegram account spoke of his joy at having the British Prime Minister visit the Ukrainian capital once again.
It read: “Many days of this war have proved that Great Britain’s support for Ukraine is firm and resolute.
“Glad to see our country’s great friend Boris Johnson in Kyiv again.”
Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, added: “Today, together with Volodymyr Zelensky, the Office and Government team, we met with our good friend and ally, Boris Johnson.
“With Boris, we discussed the much-needed heavy weapons and air defence systems supplies, economic support for Ukraine, increasing sanctions pressure on RF.”