Boris Johnson visited Kiev on Ukraine’s Independence Day

Announcing the visit on Twitter, 10 Downing Street shared a picture of Johnson speaking with Zelensky outside the Mariinsky Palace in Kiev, adding Johnson’s message: “Ukraine can and will win this war.”

Johnson has been one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against an unprovoked attack by Russia, and Wednesday’s trip was his third visit to the Ukrainian capital since the war began in late February.

He became one of the first foreign leaders to make the risky trip to the Ukrainian capital in late April, then returned on another surprise visit in June. Downing Street said Wednesday’s visit was Johnson’s last to Ukraine before he steps down next month.

While many foreign leaders and other high-ranking officials have traveled to Ukraine in recent months, Johnson stands out as one of the most frequent visitors. Polish President Andrzej Duda has also visited Kyiv three times so far this year.

Johnson developed a close relationship with Zelensky, saying he was saddened to see the ruling Conservative Party leave the British prime ministership. He was forced to resign In the month of July.

On Wednesday, Zelensky presented Johnson with a parting gift, awarding him the Order of Liberty “for the work Boris is doing for our country and all of Europe.”

“Ukraine is lucky to have a friend, not everyone is lucky,” Zelensky said, adding that the help from England “really brings us closer to victory.”

The UK has given Ukraine more than £2.3 billion ($2.71 billion) in military and financial aid since the invasion began, according to a Downing Street report.

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On Wednesday, the UK government announced it would supply Ukraine with mine hunting vehicles and drones worth 54 million pounds ($63.5 million). It said Ukraine would send mine-hunting vehicles to help detect mines in the water and train Ukrainian personnel on how to use them in UK waters in the coming weeks.

Johnson was not the only foreign official to visit Kiev on Wednesday. Portugal’s Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho visited earlier in the day, writing on Twitter “It is an honor and a privilege to be here on such a significant day for Ukraine. Count on Portugal’s full solidarity and support!”

Johnson and Gomez-Gravinho traveled to Ukraine despite warnings that Moscow might step up attacks ahead of Ukraine’s independence day.

Zelensky himself had earlier warned Ukrainians to be extra cautious on Independence Day, stressing in his late-night speech on Tuesday that “brutal Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible”.

CNN’s Niamh Kennedy, Benjamin Brown, Radina Gigova and Karem Smith contributed to this article.

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