Boris Johnson Pays a Second Surprise Visit to Kyiv

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LONDON — Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, on Friday paid a second, surprise, visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, offering a training program for the country’s military in a fresh show of support for Ukraine’s government just a day after key European leaders made a similar trip.

During the visit, Mr. Johnson promised a new package of help with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days and to provide the “strategic endurance” required to drive out Russian forces.

Britain has already provided extensive military support to Ukraine. At a news conference, Mr. Johnson said that Britain would help the Ukrainian military “to do what I believe Ukrainians yearn to do and that is to expel the aggressor from Ukraine.”

Mr. Johnson said that each Ukrainian soldier would spend three weeks on a course that would provide training in frontline battle skills, medical techniques, cybersecurity and tactics for countering explosives.

The two leaders also discussed how Britain could help to end a Russian naval blockade that is preventing the export of grain, Downing Street said, without providing any further details. There has been speculation that Britain might provide ships, though so far the government says it has taken no decisions.

Having recently survived a no-confidence vote among his own lawmakers, Mr. Johnson might hope that a visit to Kyiv could boost his own popularity after more bad news headlines this week.

Mr. Johnson, who has been one of the world’s most voluble supporters of the Ukrainian government, has cultivated strong ties with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and visited in April.

Although not the first foreign leader to make the journey to Ukraine after the Russian invasion, he was among the earliest, and was given a warm reception in Kyiv on a trip that was seen as a diplomatic success.

Mr. Johnson’s government has offered weapons as well as diplomatic support to Ukraine, and has been singled out by the Russian government as being hostile to Moscow. Inside Ukraine, the prime minister’s unflagging support for the war effort has made him something of a folk hero in contrast to his position at home, where he has been fighting for political survival. (A street in Odesa and a special pastry in Kyiv have been named after him.)

Mr. Johnson’s visit follows that of President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy. They offered their support for Ukraine to become a candidate for European Union membership, an issue that will be considered by the 27 leaders of the bloc next week. Referring to a decision by the European Commission on Friday to recommend approval of that step, Mr. Zelensky described it as a “historic moment” for his country.

Britain has left the European Union, so its assistance to Mr. Zelensky is more focused on supplying weaponry and other support.

Though Mr. Johnson’s visit was a surprise, rumors began to spread when he unexpectedly canceled a potentially more fraught speaking engagement with some of his own lawmakers — a significant minority of whom last week tried unsuccessfully to oust him — without giving a reason.

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