December 1, 2022

Brighton Journal

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To show support, British Prime Minister meets Ukraine’s Zelensky in Kyiv

To show support, British Prime Minister meets Ukraine's Zelensky in Kyiv

(Reuters) – Britain’s Boris Johnson, one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, flew to Kyiv on Saturday to pledge tougher sanctions against Russia and offer more defensive weapons to President Volodymyr Zelensky, a move Ukraine’s president said others should follow.

In a meeting covered in secrecy until Johnson appeared in the Ukrainian capital, the two leaders cemented the close ties they had nurtured since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The move caps weeks of pressure by Johnson to meet with Zelensky.

With the two men standing on stage in front of the cameras, they praised each other for their cooperation since the Russian invasion, which Moscow called a “special operation” to disarm and “discredit” its neighbor. Zelensky dismisses the description, saying that Russia is bent on destroying his country.

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“We have to put more and more pressure on the Russian Federation, work harder to help the people of Ukraine defend it against the Russian Federation, and tighten sanctions,” Zelensky said.

“Other democratic Western countries should follow the example of Great Britain. It is time for a complete embargo on Russian energy supplies, and for increased arms deliveries to us.”

Johnson responded: “We will work with our partners to escalate the economic pressure and we will continue to ramp up sanctions on Russia week by week.”

He added that the measures would include moving away from the use of Russian hydrocarbons.

Earlier, his Downing Street office said Britain would supply the country with 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems.

Johnson’s aides say the two leaders have spoken almost daily since Russia launched its massive invasion of Ukraine.

The British leader, under pressure due to alleged parties in his Downing Street residence during the COVID-19 lockdown, has been vocal in his support for Zelensky.

Earlier on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader’s office released photos showing the two men chatting across a table.

A Downing Street spokesman said Johnson met Zelensky “in a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people”.

On Zelenskiy’s Telegram channel, Johnson was described as “one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion, a pioneer in imposing sanctions on Russia and providing defensive support to Ukraine”.

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Additional reporting by Pavel Politiuk, Elizabeth Piper, William Schomberg and Natalia Zenets; Writing Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Angus McSwan, Alex Richardson and Jean Harvey

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.