UK’s Johnson makes 2nd Kyiv visit, promises to train thousands of Ukrainian soldiers

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to Kyiv on Friday for a second visit in just over two months, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, hailing Britain’s “resolute” support for Ukraine.

“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,” he wrote on Telegram with a video of him greeting the British leader at the presidential palace.

“Mr. President, Volodymyr, it is good to be in Kyiv again,” wrote Johnson on his official Twitter account.

“We are with you to give you the strategic endurance that you will need,” the prime minister said. Although he did not detail the aid, he said Britain would lead a program that could train up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every 120 days in an unspecified location outside the country.

The British-led training program could “change the equation of this war,” Johnson said. Ukraine has been taking heavy casualties in the battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.

“I completely understand why you and your people can make no compromise with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin because if Ukraine is suffering, if the Ukrainian troops are suffering, then I have to tell you that all the evidence is that Putin’s troops are under acute pressure themselves and they are taking heavy casualties,” he said. “Their expenditure of munitions, of shells and other weaponry, is colossal.”

In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, walk after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 17, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

He said that two months after his last visit, “the Ukrainian grit, determination and resilience is stronger than ever, and I know that unbreakable resolve will long outlive the vain ambitions of President Putin.”

Johnson said his government will work to intensify the sanctions on Russia. He praised the resilience of Ukrainians and how “life is coming back to the streets” of Kyiv, but noted that “only a couple of hours away, a barbaric assault continues. Towns and villages are being reduced to rubble.”

Zelensky welcomed Johnson’s visit, saying on Telegram: “We have a common view of the movement towards Ukraine’s victory. I’m grateful for a powerful support!”

The visit came a day after the European Union’s most powerful heads of state embraced Ukraine’s bid to be accepted as a candidate for EU membership, nearly four months into the Russian invasion.

Earlier Friday, The European Union’s executive arm recommended putting Ukraine on a path to membership in a move likely to be formalized at an EU leaders’ summit on June 23-24.

Such a move would be a potent symbol of support for Kyiv in its conflict with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St.Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2022. (Sergei Bobylev/TASS Host Photo Agency Pool via AP)

The latest embrace of Ukraine by its European allies also marks another setback for Putin, who launched his war nearly four months ago, hoping to pull his ex-Soviet neighbor away from the West and back into Russia’s sphere of influence.

Johnson became the first leader of a G7 country to visit Kyiv on April 9, two weeks after Russian troops had been driven back from the suburbs of the capital.

He was filmed on a walkabout through Kyiv’s deserted streets with Zelensky in a move acclaimed by Ukrainians for his show of solidarity, prompting the president to say Britain’s support for Ukraine would “remain forever in history.”


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