How did Boris Johnson get to Kyiv? PM took secret train trip into Ukraine

PM thanks ‘iron people’ of the railway for helping arrange journey from Poland

Adam Forrest
Monday 11 April 2022 09:36 BST
Boris Johnson thanks Ukrainian railway staff after taking secret train trip into Kyiv

New details have emerged of Boris Johnson’s secret journey to Ukraine, where he held surprise talks and walked around the streets of Kyiv with president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Video and photos have emerged showing Mr Johnson travelling on a train from Poland into Ukraine ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

In the clip shared by Ukrainian Railways online, the prime minister said: “I am travelling on a fantastic train through to Kyiv from Poland – I just want to say a massive thank you to all the staff of Ukrainian Railways for what you’re doing.”

Mr Johnson added: “I gathered you’re called the iron people … I think it also reflects the sprit you’re showing and the spirit of Ukraine in standing up to the appalling aggression we’re seeing. We in the UK stand in sympathy and solidarity with you.”

In a statement on the Ukrainian Railways website, the service praised the “iron character” of the prime minister and thanked him for his “courage and support”.

The UK government pledged 120 armoured vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems, with the PM promising that the equipment would help ensure the country “can never be bullied again”.

Appearing alongside Mr Zelensky, Mr Johnson said: “I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, and you Volodymyr have given the roar of that lion,” he said.

Downing Street had declined to discuss details of Mr Johnson’s travel to Kyiv, or his walk through the streets, citing security reasons.

His visit however coincided with the arrival of Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer, who also held talks with Mr Zelensky, while EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was in the city on Friday.

Zelensky’s chief diplomatic adviser said it was “very important” for Ukrainians to see leaders like Mr Johnson come to their homeland – saying “every visit, every phone call, every act of support counts and brings us to victory”.

Igor Zhovkva told Sunday Morning on BBC One: “It might be a surprise for you but it is not a surprise for us. We were preparing for a while. This visit was very timely and very important in terms of war.”

Mr Johnson did not arrive “empty handed”, Mr Zhovkva said on anti-ship missiles promised by the UK, but also said Ukraine needs more. “We need a lot more weapons – weapons, weapons and weapons.”

The adviser suggested that more western leaders were expected next week, with Mr Zelensky is determined to meet leaders in the capital.

Boris Johnson walks Kyiv streets with Zelensky

Meanwhile, Home Office minister Kit Malthouse said Britain could impose sanctions on Russian troops and generals suspected of committing war crimes in Ukraine.

Mr Malthouse told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that it was important that evidence of atrocities was gathered as “assiduously as possible”.

He said: “While that is ongoing we can take action domestically around sanctions we are able to put on individuals, including combatants, leading generals and others involved in it, to signal our recognition of their part in this dreadful, dreadful assault.”

Mr Malthouse said Mr Johnson’s walkabout with President Zelensky through the streets of Kyiv on Saturday had been “quite a remarkable moment”.

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