Boris Johnson's unannounced visit to Kyiv came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for the world to take tough measures against Russia following the bombing of a train station being used to evacuate refugees, reports Correspondent Peter Smith from Kyiv
Boris Johnson has said the West will supply Ukraine with the equipment it needs to ensure it can never again be invaded by Russia after holding unannounced talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Following the prime minister’s visit to the Ukrainian capital, Downing Street said Britain would be sending 120 armoured vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems.
Appearing alongside Mr Zelenskyy in a recorded broadcast clip, Mr Johnson said the West would continue to “ratchet up” sanctions on Moscow as he praised the courage of the Ukrainian resistance.
“I think that the Ukrainians have shown the courage of a lion, and you Volodymyr have given the roar of that lion,” he said.
“The UK and others (will) supply the equipment, the technology, the know-how, the intelligence, so that Ukraine will never be invaded again.
“So Ukraine is so fortified and protected – that Ukraine can never be bullied again. Never be blackmailed again. Never be threatened in the same way again.”
The latest support package represents a significant stepping up of UK military assistance to Ukraine.
Mr Johnson's visit comes the day after he announced a further £100 million worth of UK military assistance for the Ukrainian forces, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry and so-called "suicide drones", which loiter over the battlefield before attacking their target.
As more and more atrocities committed by Russia become apparent as troops withdraw from the north of Ukraine, it's clear why the country will benefit from weapons and support pledged by the UK and other countries, reports Correspondent Peter Smith from Kyiv
The inclusion of the anti-ship missile systems came as British military intelligence said Russian naval forces were continuing to launch cruise missile strikes in support of ground operations in the region.
It follows an urgent appeal by the Ukrainians for more weapons – including armoured vehicles – ahead of an expected Russian offensive on the eastern Donbas region, already part held by pro-Moscow separatists.
Mr Johnson said that while Russian forces attacking Kyiv had suffered a defeat, their withdrawal was “tactical” as they prepared to refocus their military efforts on the east.
He strongly condemned the “war crimes” being uncovered in the wake of their departure, with scores bodies of civilians who have been shot and killed being reported by the Ukrainian authorities.
“I think what Putin has done in places like Bucha and Irpin, his war crimes have permanently polluted his reputation and the reputation of his government,” he said.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said the retreating Russian troops had left behind evidence of the “disproportionate targeting of non-combatants”.
In its latest intelligence assessment, it said this included “the presence of mass graves, the fatal use of hostages as human shields, and mining of civilian infrastructure”.
Mr Zelensky welcomed the UK’s “decisive and significant support” for his country as he urged other Western allies to intensify the pressure on Moscow.
“We have to exert pressure in the form of sanctions. It is time to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy resources. They should increase the amount of weapons being supplied,” he said.
Mr Zelenskyy praised Mr Johnson during the pair's speech and called on "other western nations to follow the example of the United Kingdom".
Addressing the PM he continued: "I want to express words of gratitude and support for your leadership, for your assistance and the weapons, your direct and very clear position of your wonderful and powerful country and thank you for your visit at this difficult time for our country."
Mr Zelenskyy said Ukrainians are "grateful" for the support the UK has provided, adding "we shall always remember that”.
There were no immediate details of the armoured vehicles, although Defence Secretary Ben Wallace indicated during a visit to Romania on Friday that they would be Mastiff six-wheel-drive patrol vehicles.
According to the latest intelligence assessment by the UK Ministry of Defence, Russian forces are continuing to hit non-military targets like the train station at Kramatorsk.
On Friday, a missile struck a train station in eastern Ukraine which was packed with civilians trying to escape an imminent Russian offensive, killing at least 52 people, including five children and wounding dozens.
In his nightly address late on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy said the strike on the Kramatorsk train station amounted to another war crime for an international tribunal to consider and called for a tough global response.
“Like the massacres in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile attack on Kramatorsk should be one of the charges at the tribunal that must be held,” he said.
"All world efforts will be directed to establish every minute of who did what, who gave what orders, where the missile came from, who transported it, who gave the command and how this strike was agreed."
Russia denied it was responsible for the strike and accused Ukraine's military of firing the missile as a false-flag operation so Moscow would be blamed for civilian slayings.
Photos taken after Friday's missile strike showed corpses covered with tarpaulins, and the remnants of a rocket painted with the words "for the children" in Russian. The phrasing seemed to suggest the missile was sent to avenge the loss or subjugation of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear.
About 4,000 civilians had been in and around the station, heeding calls to leave before fighting intensifies in the Donbas region, the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor-general said.
“There are many people in a serious condition, without arms or legs,” Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko said, adding that the local hospital was struggling to treat everyone.
Following the attack, the Ukrainian authorities continued to urge civilians in the east to leave as Russian forces re-group following their withdrawal from the areas around Kyiv in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.
Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said 10 evacuation corridors were planned for Saturday in the hope of allowing residents to leave war zones in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which comprise the Donbas, as well as neighbouring Zaporizhzhia.
The Kremlin has denied responsibility for the attack, but western officials believe it was probably a Russian Tochka-U missile, which Nato refers to as a SS-21, which was fired indiscriminately towards the town centre.
The attack came as workers elsewhere in the country unearthed at least 67 bodies from a mass grave near a church in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, where graphic evidence of dozens of killings emerged following the withdrawal of Russian forces.
Russia has falsely claimed that the scenes in Bucha were staged.
Mr Johnson's visit to Ukraine coincided with the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, who also held talks with Mr Zelenskyy.
Last month the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia visited Kyiv in a show of support for the Ukrainians,
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