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Ukraine Urges West To Send "A Lot More" Weapons After Boris Johnson Makes Surprise Visit To Kyiv

Ukraine Urges West To Send 'A Lot More' Weapons After Boris Johnson Makes Surprise Visit To Kyiv
4 min read

An adviser to President Zelensky has described the UK's latest infusion of military support as an important moment in Ukraine's fight against Russia after Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Saturday.

Ihor Zhovkva on Sunday said that the anti-ship missiles being provided by the government would help Ukraine defend its coastal cities of key strategic significance, like Odesa. Vladimir Putin's invading forces are focusing on shelling coastal infrastructure from the sea, he told the BBC.

As well as the anti-ship missiles, the UK is also sending 120 armoured vehicles to Ukraine, the government announced on Saturday night after the Prime Minister was filmed walking around capital Kyiv with President Zelensky in a trip that the government didn't announce beforehand.

Speaking after his visit, the first since Putin launched his attack on Ukraine, Johnson paid tribute to the "resolute leadership" of Zelensky and "the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people", and warned the Kremlin that the UK would stand "unwaveringly" with its ally in "the long run".

"Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century," the Prime Minister said.

"We are stepping up our own military and economic support and convening a global alliance to bring this tragedy to an end, and ensure Ukraine survives and thrives as a free and sovereign nation."

Zhovkva on Sunday morning told the BBC that Johnson's visit was valuable because it came with a fresh package of military assistance for Ukraine, not just a show of support.

“We met with Prime Minister Johnson ahead of the war and we discussed with him the potential danger Russian aggression might have, and the Prime Minister was very supportive," he said.

"Now that the war is happening, you see many more world leaders coming to Kyiv to express their support. But visits cannot just be a show of support, they have to have results and we had results yesterday because the Prime Minister did not come empty-handed".

He stressed that in order to ultimately defeat Russia, Ukraine would need the UK and other Western governments to send "a lot more" weapons. "Weapons, weapons and weapons," he said in his interview with the BBC's Sophie Raworth.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse agreed Ukraine keeping hold of its port cities would be "critical" in determining the outcome of the war, not least because the country uses those ports to export grain and other goods around the world. 

"It’s also part of a general stance of the British government that we want to support Ukraine as much as we possibly can, with as much defensive weaponry as they need," the minister told the BBC.

"We are in constant conversation with them about what their requirements are.”

Malthouse was also asked about his colleague, Rishi Sunak, after a week which has seen the chancellor come under great pressure to explain both his wife's tax affairs and why he held a US green card for numerous years while also serving at the top of UK government.

Sunak's wife, Akshata Murty, this weekend confirmed she would start paying UK tax on her foreign income after The Independent reported earlier this week that she had saved millions of pounds on her tax bill through her non-domicile status.

Malthouse said the pair had acknowledged that her previous tax arrangement "offended against a sense of fair play" held by the British public and that the situation had been corrected.

He conceded that it was not a "brilliant time" for the story to come out, with Sunak under pressure to do more to help households cope with soaring bills and having chosen to press ahead with a contentious increase to National Insurance payments, despite opposition from Labour and a number of Conservative MPs.

Malthouse rejected the claim that Sunak had acted "naively", however, and sought to defend his performance as chancellor. 

“This is someone who has been catapulted into a maelstrom of economic instability and uncertainty and has to really work hard to keep the country on the straight and narrow and managed to produce out of thin air some of the most fantastic assistance," the minister said.

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