Embarking on a poignant moment of reflection as he placed flowers at an outdoor memorial for slain troops, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put faces to the names of the many Ukrainian soldiers who died in combat in 2014 during his visit to a Kyiv monastery with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Johnson touched down on Ukrainian soil on Friday to offer battle training for tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops, just one day after leaders of Italy, Germany, France and Romania pledged to support Ukraine in the war with Russia.
The Prime Minister’s second trip to the war-torn country saw him provide Zelensky with not only words of support, but several promises to help Ukraine in its quest to join the European Union as heavy fighting continues to tear through the country.
Johnson said Britain would lead a program that could train as many as 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every 120 days, saying the aid could “change the equation” as Ukraine continues to suffer mass casualties after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24.
“We are with you to give you the strategic endurance that you will need,” Johnson said during his unannounced visit.
“I completely understand why you and your people can make no compromise with Putin because if Ukraine is suffering, if the Ukrainian troops are suffering, then I have to tell you that all the evidence is that Putin’s troops are under acute pressure themselves and they are taking heavy casualties.”
“Their expenditure of munitions, of shells and other weaponry, is colossal,” the British Prime Minister added.
Johnson praised the resilience of Ukrainians and said he was pleased to see that life was returning to Kyiv’s streets compared to his visit in April.
He also said the UK will work to intensify sanctions on Russia.
Italy, Germany, and France are the three largest economic powers in the European Union, and their leaders have been criticized for not visiting the Ukrainian capital sooner.
The three said they planned to back Ukraine’s pending bid to join the economic bloc. Ukraine’s bid for EU membership has long been considered a threat by Russia.
Ukraine was recommended by the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, for a path to membership on Friday.
She announced the decision while wearing the Ukrainian colors, saying, “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.”
That same day, Putin said at Russia’s staged economic forum that the Kremlin “has nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU because it “isn’t a military organization, a political organization like NATO.”
Zelensky said the bravery of Ukrainians brought an opportunity for Europe to “create a new history of freedom, and finally remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia.”
“We have a common view of the movement toward Ukraine’s victory. I’m grateful for the powerful support,” he added.
With Post wires
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