Ukraine conflict: Boris Johnson travels to Kyiv for second visit since war began

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has travelled to Kyiv to meet with President Zelensky.

The prime minister cancelled a planned visit to a red wall summit in Doncaster at short notice, where he was due to make a speech to northern MPs and local councillors.

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Johnson has instead made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, his second to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

Johnson has told President Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK is prepared to launch a major operation to train Ukrainian armed forces, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister told Mr Zelensky that Britain could train up to 120,000 troops every 120 days, when the two men met during an unannounced visit by Mr Johnson to Kyiv on Friday.

No 10 said international partners would be invited to host the programme, if the offer is accepted by Ukraine.

“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,” Mr Johnson said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, walk after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine,

“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.

“Two months on from my 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.”

Boris Johnson tweeted a picture of himself with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, adding: “Mr President, Volodymyr, it is good to be in Kyiv again.”

A message on Mr Zelensky’s Telegram account 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.”

Video from the Ukrainian government showed Mr Zelensky warmly greeting the Prime Minister with a “hi, Boris” as he arrived at the presidential palace.

Arranged in secret, it was Mr Johnson’s second visit to Kyiv since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his offensive in February.

The visit came a day after Mr Zelensky was visited by French President Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Mario Draghi as Ukraine makes a bid to join the EU.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, tweeted: “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.”

Mr Johnson’s first war-time visit to Kyiv came in April, as Russian President Vladimir Putin shifted the focus of his depleted troops to the eastern Donbas region.

That has become a protracted battle and Mr Zelensky has been pressing allies to supply further, and more sophisticated, weaponry.