The British Prime Minister pays a second surprise visit to Kiev.


LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise second visit to the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Friday, where he offered a training program for the country’s military in a new statement of support for the Ukrainian government, just a day after key European leaders announced a similar campaign. trip.

During the visit, Mr Johnson promised a new aid package with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days and to provide the “strategic stamina” needed to drive out Russian forces.

Britain has already provided extensive military support to Ukraine. At a press conference, Mr. Johnson said Britain would help the Ukrainian military “to do what I think the Ukrainians desire to do and that is drive the aggressor out of Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson said each Ukrainian soldier would spend three weeks on a course that would provide training in frontline combat skills, medical techniques, cybersecurity and explosives-fighting tactics.

The two leaders also discussed how Britain could help end a Russian naval blockade that prevents grain exports, Downing Street said, without providing further details. There has been speculation that Britain could provide ships, although the government says it has not made any decisions so far.

Having recently survived a vote of no confidence among his own lawmakers, Mr Johnson may be hoping a visit to Kiev could boost his own popularity after more bad news headlines this week.

Mr Johnson, who is one of the world’s most articulate supporters of the Ukrainian government, has maintained strong ties with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and visited in April.

Although he was not the first foreign leader to make the trip to Ukraine after the Russian invasion, he was one of the earliest and received a warm welcome in Kiev on a trip that was considered a diplomatic success.

Mr Johnson’s government has offered both arms and diplomatic support to Ukraine, and has been labeled hostile to Moscow by the Russian government. In Ukraine, the prime minister’s unwavering support for the war effort has made him something of a folk hero, unlike his position at home, where he has fought for political survival. (A street in Odessa and a special pastry in Kiev are named after him.)

Mr Johnson’s visit follows that of President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy. They offered their support for Ukraine to run for membership in the European Union, an issue to be discussed by the bloc’s 27 leaders next week. Referring to a decision by the European Commission on Friday to recommend approval of that move, Mr Zelensky described it as a “historic moment” for his country.

Britain has left the European Union, so his aid to Mr Zelensky is more focused on providing arms and other aid.

While Mr Johnson’s visit was a surprise, rumors began to spread when he unexpectedly canceled a potentially more fraught speaking engagement with some of his own lawmakers – a sizable minority of whom tried unsuccessfully last week to oust him – for no reason. to give up.

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