Boris Johnson vows Ukraine ‘will win’ as he visits Kyiv on two-year anniversary of war

Former prime minister visits Kyiv on second anniversary of war

Lydia Patrick
Saturday 24 February 2024 12:55 GMT
Grant Shapps warns of 'fatal' consequences if western countries give up on Ukraine

Boris Johnson has been pictured meeting Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky on a surprise visit to Kyiv during the second anniversary of the Russian invasion.

The former prime minister posted a photograph showing him beside Mr Zelensky on X to mark the “grim anniversary” on Saturday.

Mr Johnson said: “On this grim second anniversary of Putin’s invasion I am honoured to be here in Ukraine. With their indomitable courage I have no doubt that the Ukrainians will win and expel Putin’s forces - provided we give them the military, political and economic help that they need.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak also voiced his support for Ukraine, saying the West must “renew our determination” to stand behind Ukraine.

In a video he posted on X, he said: “When Putin launched his illegal invasion two years ago, the free world was united in its response. We stood together behind Ukraine and on this grim anniversary we must renew our determination.”

It comes after Grant Shapps announced the biggest single defence package sent by the UK to Ukraine, taking support so far to over £12 billion.

The defence secretary said around £250,000 will go towards ammunition and £200 million will go to their largest supplier of drones.

Foreign secretary David Cameron said the UK has signed the “first-of-its-kind” 10 year security agreement to formalise support provisions- including intelligence sharing, cyber security, medical and military training and defence industrial cooperation.

Mr Sunak concluded: “This is the moment to show that tyranny will never triumph, to say once again we will stand with Ukraine, today and tomorrow.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with President Volodymyr Zelensky (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

It comes as a virtual G7 summit will take place later today at Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral as Western leaders descend on the capital.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen travelled overnight to the capital by train along with Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

“More than ever we stand firmly by Ukraine. Financially, economically, militarily, morally. Until the country is finally free,” Ms von der Leyen wrote on social media after she arrived in Kyiv.

They arrived shortly after a Russian drone attack struck a residential building in the southern city of Odesa, killing at least one person.

Three women also sustained severe burns in the attack on Friday evening on a residential building, regional governor Oleh Kiper said on his social media account. Rescue services are still combing rubble looking for survivors.

The foreign leaders are in Ukraine to express solidarity as Ukrainian forces run low on ammunition and weaponry and western aid hangs in the balance.

Italy, which holds the rotating presidency of the G7 economies - the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, plus the EU - announced that the heads of state and government will meet virtually on Saturday, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky participating as well, and will adopt a joint statement on Ukraine.

A sombre mood hangs over the country as the war against Russia enters its third year and Kyiv’s troops face mounting challenges on the front line amid dwindling ammunition and personnel challenges.

The aftermath of a Russian drone attack on a factory (EPA)

Its troops recently withdrew from the strategic eastern city of Avdiivka, handing Moscow one of its biggest victories.

Earlier this month, Mr Zelensky fired top military commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi, replacing him with Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, in the most significant shake-up of top brass since the invasion.

Russia still controls roughly a quarter of the country after Ukraine failed to make any major breakthroughs with its summertime counter-offensive.

Meanwhile, millions of Ukrainians continue to live in precarious circumstances in the crossfire of battles, and many others face constant struggles under Russian occupation.

Foreign officials are expected to descend on the capital to meet Mr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials and express their continued support for the country as it fights Moscow’s troops and prepares for European Union membership.

In the US Congress, Republicans have stalled 60 billion dollars (£47 billion) in military aid for Kyiv, desperately needed in the short term.

The EU recently approved a 50 billion euro (£42 billion) aid package for Ukraine to support its economy, despite resistance from Hungary.

US President Joe Biden tied the loss of the defensive stronghold of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region after months of gruelling battles to the stalled US aid.

Fears have since risen that Ukrainian forces will face similar difficulties across other parts of the 620-mile front line as they come under mounting pressure from Russian assaults.

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