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Boris urges West to ‘double down’ on Kyiv support against Putin in surprise Ukraine visit | Politics | News

Ukriane: Boris Johnson meets Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv

The former prime minister was invited to Kyiv by President Volodymyr Zelensky as he battles to secure the military equipment needed to end the assault on his country. Mr Johnson said Ukraine must “win as fast as possible” and warned the West now is the moment to “double down”.

Germany has so far refused to give permission for its battle tanks to be sent to the frontline.

But Mr Johnson urged Nato countries to give Ukrainians “all the tools they need to finish the job”.

The ex-PM was clearly shocked to be greeted by a group of senior figures as he arrived for talks with the president.

He told Mr Zelensky it was “too much honour” to have such a gathering waiting for him before adding “my god you are all here, I can’t believe it”.

Ukrainian civilians also hugged him and asked for selfies as they spotted Mr Johnson walking along the street.

The president hailed Mr Johnson a “true friend” before adding “thanks for your support”.

Mr Johnson also visited Bucha on the outskirts of the capital, where Russian forces slaughtered more than 400 civilians in a massacre last year.

Mr Johnson said the UK would be 'sticking by Ukraine for as long as it takes'

Mr Johnson said the UK would be ‘sticking by Ukraine for as long as it takes’ (Image: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/PA )

He said: “It is a privilege to visit Ukraine at the invitation of President Zelensky.

“The suffering of the people of Ukraine has gone on for too long.

“The only way to end this war is for Ukraine to win – and to win as fast as possible. This is the moment to double down and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job.

“The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world.”

Mr Johnson said the UK would be “sticking by Ukraine for as long as it takes”.

“You are going to win and you are going to get all the Russians out of your country but we will be there for the long term.

“We will also be wanting to help you to reconstruct.”

Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood warned previously that Mr Johnson should “not interfere with the messaging or the official lines of communication” between London and Kyiv.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson added that he fully supports UK Government policy on Ukraine

A spokesman for Mr Johnson added that he fully supports UK Government policy on Ukraine (Image: Ukrainian Presidency/Handout)

But Downing Street dismissed suggestions Mr Johnson’s visit undermined Rishi Sunak’s work with Ukraine.

A source said the Prime Minister was “always supportive of all colleagues showing that the UK is behind Ukraine and will continue to support them”.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson added that he fully supports UK Government policy on Ukraine, including the recent decision to send Challenger 2 tanks, and his visit demonstrates solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Mr Johnson played a crucial role in galvanising Western allies to back Ukraine in the early days of the Russian invasion.

Conservative MP Sir James Duddridge without the ex-PM’s actions, support from Nato countries would have been weaker.

He said: “Without Boris, President Zelensky would not have got the solid international backing he needed.

“The boss’s support for Ukraine will be remembered as one of the big successes of his first term as Prime Minister.”

Mr Sunak visited Ukraine in November, pledging continued British support to the country in the fight against Moscow’s forces.

So far among the Nato allies, only the UK has heeded Mr Zelensky’s call to send tanks, in the form of 14 British Army Challenger 2s.

Last week, Mr Johnson spoke in a panel discussion on Ukraine at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was introduced as a “legendary figure” in Ukraine.

Kyiv has warned that the West’s “indecision” over sending extra weapons to Ukraine is “killing more of our people”.

Berlin has refused to allow allies to supply the country with its Leopard 2 tanks, something it must sign off under export rules.

Former spy chief Sir Richard Dearlove said the invasion is going from “bad to worse” for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He told GB News: “This is a conflict that Putin politically in Russia cannot afford to lose.

“So, if he does lose, and I think one would have to reflect on what lose means in this particular case, then I think his political future is probably over, finished.

“The mechanisms for getting rid of a leader in Russia are not clear. I think he’s just in a very vulnerable situation.

“There’s a disastrous conflict he’s entered into, it’s going from bad to worse.

“He’s probably faced with another call-up. That clearly is deeply unpopular in Russia. There must be massive tensions within the leadership group inside the Kremlin, there must be massive tensions socially across Russia over this whole issue.”