(Bloomberg) — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a previously unannounced trip to Kyiv, pledging an additional military aid and other support.
Zelenskiy after the meeting hailed Johnson as “one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion” and said he expects the U.K. will play a “key role” in security guarantees for Ukraine.
Johnson praised Zelenskiy’s leadership and the heroism of the people of Ukraine throughout Russia’s invasion, now into its seventh week. He termed the killing of civilians by Russian troops under the guidance of President Vladimir Putin in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, as “war crimes.”
“Together with friends and partners, we — the U.K. and others — supply the equipment, the technology, the knowhow, the intelligence, so that Ukraine will never be invaded again,” Johnson said. “So that Ukraine is so fortified and so protected that Ukraine can never be bullied again, never be blackmailed again, never be threatened.”
Johnson on Saturday laid out fresh assistance of 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems in advance of what’s likely to be a crucial battle in Ukraine’s east over the coming weeks.
That’s on top of 100 million pounds ($130 million) in high-grade military equipment announced on Friday, including Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles and high-tech munitions for precision strikes.
The U.K., at the request of Kyiv, has liberalized tariffs on most imports from Ukraine as part of a commitment to economic stability, Johnson’s office said in a statement. The U.K. will also guarantee another $500 million in World Bank lending to Ukraine, and has pledged to help Ukraine with de-mining when hostilities end.
Johnson’s visit comes after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Kyiv and Bucha on Friday with other senior EU officials. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger was also part of that group; Austria’s chancellor visited Kyiv on Saturday.