Volodymyr Zelensky pays tribute to ‘true friend’ Boris Johnson

Ukraine: Russian prisoner of war speaks to his grandmother

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The defiant Ukrainian leader heaped mounds of praise on outgoing Prime Minister Mr Johnson, paying tribute to both his friendship and the UK’s solidarity with his invaded homeland.

Writing for a Sunday newspaper, Mr Zelensky also thanked Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, calling them “great leaders and friends of Ukraine”.

And in a damning blast to critics of Mr Johnson’s leadership, Mr Zelensky explained that Boris and been an example of his strong belief “in the power of personal leadership”.

The Ukrainian leader said: “I know it has not been an easy ride for Boris Johnson as he had to deal with many internal challenges. Prioritising support for Ukraine demanded a great courage and determination.

“At each and every meeting and conversation between us, Boris had one very good question: What else? What else do you need?

“It became our watchword, guaranteeing effective progress. Believe me, not many politicians are ready to do this.”

He continued: “Last month, Ukraine celebrated the 31st anniversary of our independence. Again, Boris Johnson was with us, welcomed by ordinary Ukrainians.

“We even started to address him, warmly and humorously, as ‘Boris Johnsoniuk’ – a Ukrainian sounding surname if you put a stress on the last syllable – inspired by his Instagram account borisjohnsonuk.”

Mr Johnson, 58, will leave office on Tuesday after a summer-long leadership contest between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak – with Ms Truss hotly tipped to step into Downing Street next week as our next PM.

But whoever wins, the Ukrainian president said he would welcome them and seek to establish “close relations”.

Mr Zelensky added: “I sincerely hope that Boris’s legacy in this fight against Russian barbarism will be preserved.

“We will continue to fight on because we do not have any other option. It is our lives and our future at stake. And we still need the UK’s support and leadership.”

Mr Zelensky concluded his article by paying tribute to “my friend Boris”, writing: “The 19th century Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko, called upon his people to keep fighting against Russians: ‘Fight and you will prevail’. Back then, we did not have powerful friends on our side.

“This time I have no doubt that Ukraine will succeed. That together with the UK we will make our world a safer place. And that our nations will grow even closer. As true friends. Just like me and my friend, Boris.”

On Saturday night Mr Johnson tweeted in response to Mr Zelensky’s article, by thanking him for his “kind words”.

He wrote: “UK support for Ukraine and its people is unwavering, and we’ll continue to support you against Putin’s war.

“Thank you for your friendship Volodymyr, you’re a hero, everybody loves you.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC at the weekend, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska sought to put Europe’s cost of living crisis into context – by saying while we fear for our energy bills, her citizens are fearing for their lives.

She added: “I understand the situation is very tough. But let me recall that at the time of the Covid-19 epidemic, and it’s still with us, when there were price hikes, Ukraine was affected as well.

“The prices are going up in Ukraine as well. But in addition our people get killed.”

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