UK’s Boris Johnson meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv, pledges more military and financial aid – Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in kyiv on Saturday. The visit was first made public by the Embassy of Ukraine in the UK., who tweeted a photo of the two.

A Number 10 spokesperson later confirmed the trip. “The Prime Minister traveled to Ukraine to meet President Zelensky in person, as a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” the spokesperson said.

Johnson tweeted later“We are putting in place a new package of financial and military aid that demonstrates our commitment to his country’s fight against Russia’s barbaric campaign.”

Later on Saturday, Downing Street said the UK was offering 120 “armoured vehicles” and a new “anti-ship missile system” to Ukraine. The British government had already announced on Friday that it would also send £100 million worth of military equipment, including more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, helmets, night vision devices and body armor..

Johnson had said on Friday that the West would not be able to meet all of Ukraine’s requests for weapons because it “would not be appropriate” to provide some of that equipment to Kyiv. When asked if Britain would send its own tanks and armored vehicles to kyiv, Johnson replied: “I am in principle willing to consider anything as defensive armament to help the Ukrainians protect themselves and protect their people”, but said it was “important that we should give equipment that is genuinely useful and usable by Ukrainians, this is our consideration.

Johnson on Saturday “reiterated that the United Kingdom will do everything in its power to support Ukraine’s courageous fight against Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion and ensure its long-term security and prosperity,” Downing Street said in the statement, adding that the pair had “in-depth discussions” about military and economic assistance.

The UK will guarantee an additional $500 million World Bank loan to Ukraine if the UK parliament agrees, bringing the total loan guarantee to $1 billion. The UK is also “liberalizing tariffs on the vast majority of imports from Ukraine” and easing customs, Downing Street said.

“Ukraine defied odds and pushed Russian forces from the gates of kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” Johnson said. “I have made it clear today that the UK stands steadfast with them in this ongoing fight, and we are in it for the long haul.”

Johnson’s trip comes a day after top EU leaders European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell visited Kyiv and met with Zelenskyy. Von der Leyen also visited Bucha, a town just outside kyiv where massacres and atrocities were uncovered last week, prompting a new round of sanctions by the West. Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer also visited kyiv on Saturday.

Zelenskyy and Johnson have spoken on the phone since the start of the war, and Zelenskyy has praised Johnson’s support many times, saying he “is a more helpful leader” than some of his European counterparts. Oliver Dowden, the chairman of the Conservative Party, has previously said March 21th that Johnson is “desperate” to go to Ukraine.

This article has been updated.

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Edward L. Robinett