Boris Johnson visits Kyiv on Ukraine’s Independence Day

10 Downing Street announced the visit on Twitter, posting a photo of Johnson talking to Zelensky outside the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv and adding that Johnson’s message was: “Ukraine can and will win this war.”

Johnson is one of Ukraine’s most vocal supporters as it tries to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked attack, and his visit on Wednesday was his third to the Ukrainian capital since the outbreak of war in late February.

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

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

Johnson developed a close relationship with Zelensky, who said he was sad to see the British prime minister leave office when the ruling Conservative Party Force him to resign in July.

On Wednesday, Zelensky presented Johnson with a parting gift, awarding him the Medal of Freedom “for the work that Boris has done for our country and all of Europe.”

“Ukraine is lucky to have a friend that not everyone is so lucky to have,” Zelensky said, adding that the help it received from the UK was “really bringing us closer to victory.”

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

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The UK government announced, on Wednesday, that it will provide Ukraine with mine search vehicles and drones worth 54 million pounds ($63.5 million). It said it would also send to Ukraine mine search vehicles designed to help detect mines in waters 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 Kyiv on Wednesday. Portuguese Foreign Minister João Gomes visited Cravinho earlier today, and said on Twitter that “It is an honor and a privilege to be here on such an important day for Ukraine. Count on Portugal’s full solidarity and support!”

Johnson and Gomez Cravinho traveled to Ukraine despite warnings that Moscow might choose to escalate attacks over Ukraine’s Independence Day.

Zelensky himself had earlier warned Ukrainians to be more careful on Independence Day, emphasizing in his Tuesday evening address that “heinous Russian provocations and savage strikes are possible.”

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

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