UK PM visits Kyiv as Ukraine-Poland-UK alliance takes shape

1 February 2022, 10:45 PM

In a show of support amid a looming Russian invasion of Ukraine, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Feb. 1 for a state visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Johnson was initially expected to announce a new trilateral alliance of Ukraine, Poland and the UK, but these plans were postponed as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who was also initially expected to attend, tested positive for COVID-19 and remained in the UK.

As he landed at Boryspil airport just outside Kyiv, Johnson tweeted in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty.

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“As a friend and a democratic partner, the UK will continue to uphold Ukraine's sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it,” he said.

Zelensky and Johnson held a joint press conference after their meeting, where they discussed bilateral trade ties and UK military and financial support of Ukraine amidst growing tensions with Russia.

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in the face of ongoing Russian aggression,” Johnson said during the press conference.

“Alongside other countries, we’re preparing a package of sanctions to be enacted the moment the first Russian toe-cap crosses further into Ukrainian territory,” he said.

However, the prime minister added that London is “keen to engage in dialogue” with Moscow, expressing his hope that a diplomatic path towards de-escalation may yet be found.

Johnson said during the press conference that he will be talking to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 2, trying to avert what he called a “clear and very present danger.”

"Our view is that time is urgent and this (threat of a Russian offensive) needs to be addressed now," said the prime minister.

Responding to a question about how satisfied he is with Western planned sanction response to a potential further invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Zelensky once again called for “preventative” sanctions.

“Let’s introduce them (sanctions) first, and then we’ll see,” said Zelensky.

Coinciding with the visit from the head of UK government, the prime ministers of Poland and the Netherlands – Mateusz Morawiecki and Mark Rutte, respectively – are also to visit Kyiv.

The Dutch, Greek, German and French foreign ministers are expected in Ukraine later this week.

Late last year, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Ukraine’s western allies to schedule official visits to the country in January and February of 2022, in order to demonstrate their support at the time when Russia is most likely to embark on another invasion of Ukraine.

According to the BBC, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is expected in Moscow on Feb. 11.

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