Boris Johnson has told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky he “will win” the war against Russia as he made another surprise visit to Kyiv to mark the country’s independence day.
The caretaker prime minister announced a new £54m package of UK support for Ukraine to help fend off Russian forces, including unmanned surveillance and missile systems.
Posting a picture of himself with Zelensky on his third trip to the capital, Johnson said: “What happens in Ukraine matters to us all.”
He added: “Which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the UK is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.”
Johnson received Ukraine’s highest award bestowed on foreign nationals – the Order of Liberty – for the UK’s staunch support since the invasion by Vladimir Putin’s forces in February.
During his final visit as PM, Johnson also called on western allies to stay the course in the war – saying the UK would continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself from a “barbaric and illegal invader”.
No 10 said the £54m package of 200 state-of-the-art drones and loitering munitions would enable the Ukrainians to better track and target invading Russian troops.
The latest package includes 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones. The UK is also preparing to give mine-hunting vehicles to operate off the coast, with Ukrainian personnel being trained in their use in British waters in the coming weeks.
Johnson was also captured doing a heavily-guarded walkabout on the streets of Kyiv with president Zelensky on Wednesday.
It comes as defence secretary Ben Wallace said Russia remains in a “very fragile position” and was making little progress in Ukraine.
“I spoke to my intelligence chiefs this morning before coming on, you know, Russia’s advance can be measured in metres per week, not miles,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Asked whether Ukraine was realistically in a position to retake territory, Wallace said: “I think Ukraine is getting itself into that position,” adding that morale among Zelensky’s troops was high.
The defence secretary also suggested he wanted to see the UK government to “toughen up” its visa conditions for Russians, but expressed doubt that a total ban was the solution. Wallace said it was “a matter for the home secretary to look at”.
Earlier on Wednesday, Armed Forces minister James Heappey said any move to re-establish relations with Russia would make the cost of living crisis “100 times worse” – saying there was no “going back” to a pre-invasion energy market.
Meanwhile, Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss pledged to declassify more British intelligence to expose more of efforts by Russia to undermine the west. She said she would “go further” as PM and do more “to expose Putin’s playbook to the world”.
The foreign secretary told a Tory hustings event in Birmingham on Tuesday night that she was “ready” to hit Britain’s nuclear button if necessary – even after she was reminded that it would mean “global annihilation”.
Sir Keir Starmer visited Ukrainian and British troops training on Salisbury Plain on Wednesday, saying he had “reiterated” to them his party’s “unrelenting support for Ukrainian sovereignty”.
The Labour leader said: “Our commitment to the Ukrainian people will never waver. British defence and security services will continue to be a vital force for countering Russian aggression, and they will always have our full backing.”