A friendship forged in war: Boris Johnson lavishes praise on Volodymyr Zelensky as he says the Ukrainian President has ‘inspired and mobilised’ the world against Vladimir Putin after Kyiv gives the PM a ‘shopping list’ of weapons to combat Russian invasion
Boris Johnson today lavished praise on Volodymyr Zelensky as the two leaders continue to forge a strong relationship following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking during a visit to Warsaw in Poland, the Prime Minister hailed the ‘courage’ of the Ukrainian President and said he had ‘inspired and mobilised’ the world against Vladimir Putin.
The two men have held phone calls every day since Moscow launched its attack last Thursday.
Mr Johnson appears to have spoken to Mr Zelensky more than any other Western leader in the last six days, with the Ukrainian President leaning on the UK for military support.
He is said to have presented Mr Johnson with a ‘shopping list’ of arms requests, with Britain thought to be sending anti-tank missile shipments almost daily.
Downing Street would not be drawn on the specifics of the weapons it is sending but Number 10 said last night that Mr Johnson had committed to ‘sending more in the coming hours and days’.
A source told The Sun: ‘Zelensky has made very specific requests for military hardware during near daily phone calls, and we are working round the clock to get them into Ukraine.’
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelensky have spoken every day since the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Mr Johnson appears to have spoken to Mr Zelensky more than any other Western leader since last Thursday, with the Ukrainian President leaning on the UK for military support
Mr Johnson is today visiting Poland and Estonia as he inspects NATO’s borders and meets British troops.
He told a press conference in Warsaw that Mr Putin had ‘fatally underestimated’ the resilience of the Ukrainian people and their leader.
The PM said: ‘I think in this grim war which is now, what, in its sixth day, he (the Russian President) has fatally underestimated two things.
‘The first is the passionate desire of the Ukrainian people to defend and protect their own country, their belief in their sovereign right to defend themselves.
‘And may I pay tribute by the way to the leadership and courage that is being shown by Volodymyr Zelensky.
‘I think he has inspired and mobilised not only his own people, he is inspiring and mobilising the world in outrage at what is happening in Ukraine.’
The Prime Minister has publicly paid tribute to the ‘incredible heroism’ of the Ukrainian people and their leader.
Following a call with Mr Zelensky on Friday morning, Mr Johnson reportedly turned to an aide and said: ‘Jesus, that guy is brave.’
The pair have now spoken every day since Russia’s invasion began in the early hours of Thursday morning last week.
The calls between the two men appear to be taking place more frequently than Mr Zelensky’s discussions with other world leaders.
However, Downing Street yesterday refused to be drawn on the subject when asked about the frequency of the calls.
It is unclear whether the PM will speak to Mr Zelensky today but given the daily calls up to now, it appears highly likely.
The daily calls started last Thursday after Russia launched its initial invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Johnson and Mr Zelensky spoke in the early hours as the PM said he was ‘appalled by the unfolding events in Ukraine’.
The premier also told his counterpart that the ‘West would not stand by’ as Mr Putin ‘waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people’.
Then on Friday morning Mr Zelensky updated Mr Johnson on Russian advances as the PM said the ‘world is united in its horror at what Putin his doing’.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had ‘committed to provide further UK support to Ukraine in the coming days’.
The phone calls continued over the weekend as Mr Johnson ‘paid tribute to the incredible heroism and bravery of President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people’ during a conversation on Saturday evening.
Mr Johnson is today visiting Poland and Estonia as he inspects NATO’s borders and meets British troops. The PM is pictured arriving in Warsaw, Poland, this morning
On Sunday evening Mr Johnson again ‘lauded the bravery of the Ukrainian people following the Russian invasion and praised the leadership of President Zelensky in the face of such adversity’.
Number 10 said the leaders ‘agreed to continue to stay in close contact and the Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty’.
The most recent call took place yesterday afternoon as Mr Zelensky ‘updated the Prime Minister on the Ukrainian resistance to the ongoing Russian invasion’.
Mr Johnson again praised Mr Zelensky for ‘his bravery and that of the Ukrainian people’.
Downing Street said: ‘The leaders categorically condemned the barbaric airstrikes being carried out by Russia against innocent civilians, including children.
‘The Prime Minister updated President Zelenskyy on UK military support being sent to Ukraine, and committed to sending more in the coming hours and days.’