Relief spread not only in London but also in Kyiv on Monday evening: Like the British Prime Minister, the Ukrainian President was also relieved. Vladimir Zelensky and his advisors were delighted with the result of the vote.
Like the Guardians reported, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy said he was “very happy” that Boris Johnson survived the vote of no confidence. Zelensky’s team of advisers celebrated Johnson’s result almost enthusiastically and thanked the British prime minister for helping to protect “the free world from a barbaric invasion,” as Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podoliak claimed on Twitter.
“Very important ally”
Zelensky called Johnson’s narrow win on Monday night “great news” while video-connecting to a Financial Times event on Tuesday.
“I’m glad we didn’t lose a very important ally. This is great news,” said the Ukrainian President.
Johnson had spoken to Zelensky before Monday’s vote. The British government, meanwhile, has confirmed that it will supply an undisclosed number of M270 rocket launchers to Ukraine.
Shortly after the results of the vote were announced, British Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he knew what the Ukrainian President would “think tonight”. He said in a TV interview: “Zelensky will blow up because he knows that his great ally Boris Johnson will be prime minister tomorrow morning.”
Johnson as world leader
At 11 p.m. local time in Ukraine, minutes after the result was announced, Podoliak tweeted approvingly:
“Leadership is always a heavy burden,” Podoljak wrote in English, praising Johnson for being one of the first to face the alleged “threat of [Russland] recognized and assisted Zelensky to protect the free world from a barbarian invasion. The world needs leaders like that.”
Leadership is always a heavy burden. @BorisJohnson was one of the first who realized the menace of 🇷🇺 & stood by @ZelenskyyUa to protect the free world from barbaric invasion. The world needs such leaders. The UK is a great friend of 🇺🇦. 🇬🇧 crown is a shield of democratic world. pic.twitter.com/BGjLvy8IhH
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 6, 2022
Few observers seem to believe that British support for Ukraine would change significantly under a different Conservative leader. However, Johnson and Zelensky are said to have developed a good personal relationship.
Johnson as a guarantor for arms deliveries
That same night, Zelensky thanked the prime minister for “fully understanding our needs” and “providing the weapons we so desperately need to protect the lives of our people.”
Johnson is hugely popular with Ukraine’s leaders, especially as the UK is considered a fast arms supplier, unlike Germany, which began shipping hundreds of anti-tank weapons back in January, a month before Russia’s military operation began.
Kira Rudik, an MP who chairs the pro-Western liberal party Golos, claimed the British prime minister is more popular in Ukraine than US President Joe Biden. She referred to Johnson’s visit to Kyiv under the highest security measures, during which he walked with Zelenskiy, heavily guarded, in deserted streets in a camera-effective manner. Unlike Johnson, Biden has not visited Kyiv since the war began.
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