UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed up in the Ukrainian capital Saturday, in a bold surprise visit made public for the first time in photographs posted to government accounts showing the face-to-face meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Zelensky's office confirmed on Facebook that he and Johnson met. "Right now Boris Johnson’s visit to Kiev began with a tet-a-tet meeting with President Zelensky. Great Britain is a leader in defense support of Ukraine. The leader in the anti-war coalition. Leader in sanctions on Russian aggressor," a statement said.
Surprise 😉 pic.twitter.com/AWa5RjYosD— Embassy of Ukraine to the UK (@UkrEmbLondon) April 9, 2022
Zelensky in his own social media post revealing the meeting, called Johnson "one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion" and a "leader in sanctions pressure."
And the UK's embassy in Ukraine posted an image of the two leaders holding discussions in a small room with the word "surprise".
The British prime minister's office said Johnson went there in person, even as a major war is happening, in order to show "solidarity with the Ukrainian people." The statement further said, "They will discuss the UK's long-term support to Ukraine and the PM will set out a new package of financial and military aid."
The day prior, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell Fontelles were inside Ukraine to meet with Zelensky, and even had a battlefield tour of sorts.
Ukraine’s Zelensky writes on Telegram of his “friend,” the British PM, “The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson is one of the most principled opponents of the Russian invasion, a leader in sanctions pressure on Russia and defense support for Ukraine.” pic.twitter.com/sRghcMgypM— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) April 9, 2022
On Thursday, a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels among the alliance's foreign ministers saw the US and UK lead the way in forging a fresh agreement to give Ukraine "new and heavier" weapons, at a moment a limited number of Czech-provided Soviet-designed T-72M tanks have already been transferred to Kiev - reportedly with the quiet assistance of Washington.
"There was support for countries to supply new and heavier equipment to Ukraine, so that they can respond to these new threats from Russia," British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said at a press briefing. It appears Johnson's meeting likely hashed out with Zelensky precisely what additional weapons the UK is ready to transfer.