Kyiv – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has arrived in Kyiv on a surprise visit to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in what Downing Street called a “solidarity demonstration” amid fears of a possible new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine Ukraine increase.
At a joint news conference alongside Zelenskyy on April 9, Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin had “permanently polluted” his reputation and that of Russia with his actions in Ukraine, including deadly attacks on civilians in what many have labeled war crimes. . .
“What Putin has done in places like Bucha and Irpin are war crimes that have tarnished his reputation and the reputation of his government,” Johnson said.
Earlier, Johnson’s office said the prime minister was traveling to Kyiv “in solidarity with the Ukrainian people” and would “discuss Britain’s long-term support for Ukraine.”
During his meetings, Downing Street said Johnson had pledged to provide Ukraine with an additional 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missiles, while praising the performance of Kiev’s military and civilian defenders.
“It is because of President Zelenskyy’s determined leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people that Putin’s monstrous goals are being thwarted,” he said after his meeting with Zelenskyy, according to his office.
“Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces at the gates of Kiev in the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s trip, which was not announced beforehand, is the most prominent visit to Ukraine in a recent string of arrivals by European officials following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region around the capital.
Also on April 9, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer met with Selenskyj in Kyiv, while the day before EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell arrived in the Ukrainian capital.
Andriy Sybiha, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, posted a photo Facebook of the two leaders seated together, with Johnson wearing a dark suit and Zelenskyy in his traditional khaki overalls.
“Boris Johnson’s visit to Kyiv began with a tete-a-tete with President Zelenskyy,” Sybiha wrote.
“Britain is a leader in defense support to Ukraine. Leader in anti-war coalition. Leading in sanctions against the Russian aggressor.”
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Johnson has taken a hard line against Russia since the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and following reports of possible war crimes in deadly attacks on civilians by Moscow forces.
Russian forces have met stronger than expected resistance from Ukrainian forces and civilians, forcing them to withdraw from the Kyiv region.
Experts say Moscow plans to focus its attack on Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions, where Russia or Kremlin-backed forces have held Ukrainian territory since 2014.
On April 9, Luhansk region governor Serhiy Hayday said more people needed to be evacuated from the eastern region as shelling has increased in recent days and more Russian forces are arriving.
He said about 30 percent of residents in towns and villages across the region still remain and have been ordered to evacuate.
“She [Russia] are gathering forces for an offensive and we see that the number of shells has increased,” Hayday told Ukrainian television.
The US said this week that Moscow likely plans to deploy tens of thousands of troops in eastern Ukraine.
Russia is concentrating its offensive, which included cruise missiles fired by its naval forces, on the eastern Donbass region, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in a daily briefing on April 9.
Airstrikes were expected to increase in the south and east as Russia attempts to build a land bridge between Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the Donbass, but Ukrainian forces thwarted the advance.
Ukrainian officials said shelling in the area had increased in recent days as more Russian forces arrived.
“The occupiers continue to prepare for the offensive in the east of our country in order to gain full control over the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on April 9.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on April 9 that ten humanitarian corridors had been agreed for the evacuation of people across the country, including people who are to leave the besieged port of Mariupol in the south by private transport.
Meanwhile, Zelenskyy has called for a tough global response against Russia after his forces fired a missile at a crowded train station, killing at least 52 people.
In his late-night address late April 8, Zelenskyy said the strike at the Kramatorsk train station, where 4,000 people were trying to flee a looming Russian offensive in the east, was another war crime.
Russia denied responsibility for the strike. Five children were among those killed and dozens of people were seriously injured.
Photos taken after the attack showed bodies covered in tarpaulin and the remains of a rocket painted with the words “for the children” in Russian.
World leaders condemned the attack.
US President Joe Biden responded Twitterand called it “another terrible atrocity committed by Russia that hit civilians trying to evacuate and get to safety”.
The French government called it a “crime against humanity” and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it “ruthless”.
Train evacuations from Kramatorsk have been suspended due to the attack, Ukraine’s state railways said on April 9, adding that evacuations were being carried out from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions continue from the railway stations in Slovyansk, Pokrovsk and Novozolotarivka.