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Zelenskyy heaps praise on Boris Johnson as ‘true friend’ leaves office

The Ukrainian president has said he was ‘concerned’ when he found out there would be a new administration.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY HAS heaped praise on “true friend” and ally Boris Johnson, as the UK’s prime minister enters his final few days in office.

In an indication of the esteem in which the Ukrainian president holds Johnson, Zelenskyy has written a piece in the Mail on Sunday and spoken to the Sunday Times about his gratitude to the outgoing British premier.

In both, Zelenskyy also expresses his hope for future “close relations” with Johnson’s successor, who could be in line for an invitation to visit Kyiv.

Zelenskyy told the Sunday Times that it would be a “priority” to extend an invitation to the next prime minister, while he also admitted that he was “concerned” when he heard Johnson was resigning.

boris-johnson-visit-to-ukraine PA PA

“When we learned that there would be a change of government, all of us were concerned,” he told the paper.

“Johnson was supporting us and a lot depends on the leader. The leader is the one who communicates. The leader is the one that mediates between a country and its people, and a leader has an impact upon society.”

Speaking about Johnson’s successor, he said of that relationship: “I can only pray that it will be at the same level as I had with prime minister Johnson.”

In the Mail on Sunday, he paid tribute to UK solidarity with the country since the Russian invasion.

Zelenskyy also used the article to thank Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, calling them “great leaders and friends of Ukraine”.

“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.”

Zelenskyy says that he believes “in the power of personal leadership”.

“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.”

He continues: “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.”

Johnson will leave office on Tuesday, after a summer-long leadership contest between Truss and Rishi Sunak.

On Saturday he tweeted his thanks to Zelenskyy for his “kind words”.

“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.”

Liz Truss is widely tipped to become prime minister next week.

The Ukrainian president said he would welcome whoever the next prime minister is and would establish “close relations”.

“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.”

Zelenskyy concludes by paying tribute to “my friend Boris”.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the BBC, to be broadcast on today, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska says that while the rest of Europe has been pitched into an energy crisis, Ukraine is at the forefront of Russian attacks.

“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.

“So when you start counting pennies on your bank account or in your pocket, we do the same and count our casualties,” she said.

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