- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to Kiev to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer also attended the meeting in the Ukrainian capital.
- Johnson promised more military aid to Ukraine, including armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Saturday joined the stream of European leaders who expressed their support for Ukraine by traveling to the country’s capital for face-to-face meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Johnson’s surprise visit included pledges of new military aid, including 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems. This comes a day after he promised to send another £100m ($130m) of high quality military equipment to Ukraine and said Britain wants to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
Johnson also confirmed further economic support and guaranteed Ukraine an additional $500 million in World Bank loans, bringing the UK’s total loan guarantee to up to $1 billion.
“Today I met my friend President @ZelenskyyUa in Kyiv to demonstrate our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine,” Johnson said on Twitter in support of his country’s fight against Russia’s barbaric campaign.”
The head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said “the conversation was rich and constructive,” but gave no details.
A picture of the meeting between the two heads of state was posted online by the Embassy of Ukraine in London with the caption “Surprise” and a winking smiley face.
The military aid package announced Friday includes more Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, another 800 anti-tank missiles and precision munitions that can linger in the sky until aimed at their target.
“Ukraine has defied all odds and pushed back Russian forces at the gates of Kiev, performing the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” Johnson said in a statement. “It is because of President Zelenskyy’s determined leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people that Putin’s monstrous goals will be thwarted.”
As Zelenskyy keeps appearing virtually to enlist support from lawmakers around the world, a growing number of European leaders have decided it’s time to travel to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv for face-to-face talks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kyiv on Friday following previous visits by the Czech, Polish and Slovenian prime ministers.
Nehammer met with Zelenskyj earlier on Saturday and promised that the EU would continue to tighten sanctions against Russia “until the war stops”.
“As long as people are dying, any sanction is still insufficient,” he said, adding that Austrian embassy staff would be returning to Kyiv from western Ukraine.
Von der Leyen, who heads the European Union’s executive branch, traveled to Warsaw on Saturday to lead a fundraiser for Ukraine. She was joined by Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Zelenskyy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared via video link.
At the end of the 90-minute meeting, von der Leyen said 10.1 billion euros ($11 billion) had been raised for Ukrainian refugees.
The event took place in Warsaw because more than 2.5 million of the 4.4 million people who have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24 have entered Poland. Many stayed, some moved to other countries.
The event, co-convened by von der Leyen and Trudeau, sought pledges from governments, global celebrities and ordinary people.
It ended with Julian Lennon singing his father John Lennon’s peace song “Imagine,” which he says was the first time he’d ever done it publicly.
Julian Lennon posted on social media that he always said he would only sing the song if it was the “end of the world”. He says it’s the right song to sing now because “the war against Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy,” and he felt compelled to respond in the most meaningful way possible.