Zelensky may be invited on state visit to UK to bolster Boris Johnson's leadership

·2 min read
Volodymyr Zelensky - Yui Mok/PA
Volodymyr Zelensky - Yui Mok/PA

Volodymyr Zelensky may be invited on a state visit to the UK to bolster Boris Johnson’s leadership credentials, it emerged on Sunday.

Officials are said to be working on the possibility of a visit, although it is unlikely before the war with Russia is concluded.

No 10 played down reports that the visit, including an audience with the Queen, could coincide with an appearance at the Tory Party conference in the autumn.

Instead, the Ukrainian president, who has not left his country since the war began, could address the Tory conference via video link.

Asked on Sunday about the possibility of a state visit during the G7 summit in Germany, Mr Johnson said he would be "honoured" to host the Ukrainian president.

"If he ever becomes free to leave and it makes sense for him to leave Ukraine, then obviously the UK would be only too honoured to host him. But the most important thing is for us to continue to be united here at the G7. And we are," said Mr Johnson.

The Prime Minister has visited the president twice in Kyiv in the past three months, while Mr Zelensky addressed the Commons in March.

Mr Johnson flew to Kyiv two weeks ago to meet the Ukrainian president after pulling out of a conference of northern Tory MPs at the last minute before the Wakefield by-election.

He announced a UK-led military training scheme, which would have the potential to train up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers every 120 days and would allow them to "accelerate their deployment, rebuild their forces and scale up their resistance".

It followed a visit in April after Mr Johnson had announced £100 million worth of UK military assistance for Ukrainian forces, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry and so-called “suicide drones”, which loiter over the battlefield before attacking their target.

“The Prime Minister is simply of the view that were he to come, of course we would want to celebrate his achievements in full. But I'd emphasise there are no plans for such at the moment,” a Downing Street source said.

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