Boris Johnson promises more weapons during surprise Ukraine visit — Analysis
In Kiev, he was met by Volodymyr Zilensky. The UK PM then pledged a second weapon package to him in just two days
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an unannounced visit to Kiev on Saturday, during which he pledged 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime. Johnson also authorized another military assistance package for Ukraine the day prior and promised to loan Ukraine $500 million from World Bank.
“Today I met my friend President Zelensky in Kiev as a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine,” Johnson posted a tweet shortly after receiving news about his surprise trip to the capital of Ukraine. “We’re setting out a new package of financial and military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country’s struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign,” He added.
Today, I had lunch with my friend President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv as a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine.We’re setting out a new package of financial & military aid which is a testament of our commitment to his country’s struggle against Russia’s barbaric campaign. pic.twitter.com/KNY0Nm6NQ3
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 9, 2022
According to Downing Street, Britain will supply Zelensky’s forces with 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems. This tranche of military equipment is in addition to a £100 million ($130 million) military aid package announced on Friday, which includes Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, 800 NLAW anti-tank missiles, and “high-tech loitering munitions,” commonly known as ‘suicide drones.’
Johnson is a pro-Ukrainian leader who has been eager to help since February, when Russia launched its military aggression. London has already shipped more than 4,000 missiles NLAW to Ukraine. The UK has convened a group of donors to encourage its allies in increasing their arms supply. In response to conflict, the UK sanctioned Russia heavily and shut off its supply of Russian oil-and gas.
Johnson himself has referred to two incidents – the killing of civilians in the town of Bucha and a deadly missile strike on a train station in Kramatorsk – as Russian “war crimes,” even though the circumstances surrounding both still haven’t been investigated. Moscow accuses Ukrainian forces of manipulating evidence from the latter for a “crude and cynical provocation,” and cited the Ukrainian military’s use of the type of missile deployed in the latter incident.
Kiev has acknowledged the support of UK PM. In a Facebook post announcing the Johnson-Zelensky meeting, Andriy Sybiha, an aide to the Ukrainian leader, described the UK as “leader in defense support of Ukraine. A leader of the anti-war alliance. Leader in sanctions against the Russian aggressor.”
Johnson’s visit came a day after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a similar trip to Ukraine where she promised Zelensky a fast track to EU membership. The Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer visited Kiev also on Saturday. But, Austria is neutral and Nehammer didn’t give any military assistance to Zelensky. He instead pledged support for further EU sanctions against Moscow and humanitarian assistance.
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