For Ukraine, the resignation of Boris Johnson means the loss of a personal ally

LONDON. Prime Minister Boris Johnson may be a controversial figure in Britain, where his long association with scandal has made him a lonely man this week as dozens of former political allies deserted him, forcing him to step down.

But if there’s one place where Mr. Johnson’s appreciation hasn’t faded, it’s Ukraine, where the prime minister is seen as a true friend of a nation at war since the Russian invasion in February.

In Kyiv, pastries are named after him.countless memes have been created in his honor. Yuliya Maleks, 36, who owns a small farm in a village near Lviv, recently shared with a laugh how she named a prized sheep “Jonsonyuk”, using the nickname that was adopted for Mr. J. Johnson in Ukraine, playing on his official Instagram handle.

“We will always be honored to have Boris Johnson on board,” the company wrote in a tribute on Facebook, which has been flooded with dozens of positive messages after Mr. B. Johnson announced Thursday that he was stepping down.

For Mr. Johnson, a Churchill fan, Ukraine’s dispassionate support helped solidify his lead as the costs of Brexit and the pandemic took their toll, in addition to multiple scandals that ultimately sapped the prime minister’s support and forced him to leave.

One of the few things British lawmakers seem to agree on is support for Ukrainian forces in their battle against Russia, and the British public in opinion polls overwhelmingly supported those efforts.

The conflict gave Mr. Johnson an opportunity to remind his country and the world of the legacy of British determination on the Continent and the freedom for a more independent foreign policy that Britain’s exit from the European Union had provided. Britain’s support for Ukraine allowed Mr Johnson to match Britain’s position with the more cautious approach of Berlin and Paris.

Perhaps no major Western leader has been so outspoken in his support for the country: two visits to Ukraine since the war began, countless phone calls to Mr. Trump. Zelensky, and the obligation of military and financial assistance, which established a bond between the two leaders.

For many in Ukraine, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, gratitude to Mr Johnson feels deeply personal. The two leaders exchanged praise for each other on Thursday.

Shortly after his resignation, G. Johnson called on President Zelensky to “reaffirm the United Kingdom’s unwavering support for Ukraine,” according to his office, and “emphasized the country’s unwavering cross-party support.” mr. Johnson ended the call by praising President Zelenskiy, saying, “You are a hero, everyone loves you,” his office said in a statement.

“He was a true friend of Ukraine”, mr. Zelensky said this on Thursday in an interview with CNN. shortly after resignation. In his daily address to Ukraine on Thursday, Mr. Zelensky added that “Ukrainians have personal gratitude for Boris,” in particular, for his “leadership and charisma.”

The Ukrainian public also has sympathy for him. Johnson, after Prime Minister, played an early role in supplying Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons and actively pushed Western allies to impose financial sanctions against Russia.

“We’ll miss you Johnsonook” social media user wrote.

For ordinary Ukrainians, Mr. Johnson’s departure may seem more like a personal loss, as he has become something of a figurehead in an effort to win Western support for their fight against Russia.

At a dinner table in Ukraine during a recent memorial service for a fallen soldier, family members expressed their gratitude to Mr. C. Johnson, even in his grief praising him for his commitment to Ukraine.

The parents of a Lvov soldier who was sent to the east of the country said they were confident that Mr. Johnson’s support and the UK’s commitment to arming and training would help bring their son home safely.

Now, in the wake of Mr. Johnson’s announcement, many on social media seemed confident that whoever replaces him would also continue the legacy of commitment to Ukraine.

mr. Zelenskiy on Thursday reiterated that determination, confident that the same commitment comes from Mr. Trump. Johnson’s successor: “I’m sure that UK policy towards Ukraine will not change.”

He may be right.

John Kampfner, chief executive of the UK Worldwide Initiative at Chatham House, a UK think tank, said that while there will be significant changes in UK foreign policy under a new leader – at least tonal, if not substantial, depending on who wins. Tory leadership – policy towards Ukraine is unlikely to change.

“It would be illogical if any successor to Johnson behaved differently or pursued policies different from this,” he said, and one of the new prime minister’s first calls is likely to be addressed to Mr. Johnson. Zelensky and one of the first visits to Kyiv.

“The last six to nine months of British developments regarding Ukraine will be seen as a very important but rare positive moment in Johnson’s historical assessment,” he said. Kampfner said.

At times, Mr. Johnson’s own political destiny seemed to be linked to what was happening in Ukraine. Calls for his resignation earlier this year amid the scandal seemed to subside as attention turned to how to respond to the Russian invasionwhich provided a useful political distraction.

As a result, when Mr. Johnson barely survived last month’s vote of confidence. Zelensky was one of the first to welcome the fact that he managed to stay in office. In just a few days, mr. Johnson made an unannounced visit to Kyiv and announced a training program for Ukrainian forces.

But Mr. Johnson and successive British governments over the past three decades have also maintained a double standard on Russia. Kampfner, an important context for understanding current relations with Ukraine. The Conservative Party benefited from Russian donors, and Russian money flowed into London with little or no oversight.

“Consistently and enthusiastically, British governments are encouraging the City of London and the service industry to turn them into laundries for dubious Russian money and reputation,” he said. Kampfner said. “And nothing serious was ever done about it until almost February. 24.”

Even now, sanctions designed to punish Russian figures close to President Vladimir Putin in the UK are based on asset freezes, not arrests.

However, apart from Mr. Johnson’s internal opponents, if there was anyone who was glad to see the prime minister go, it was Mr. Jones. Insert. mr. Johnson was one of his most vocal critics.

Asked by a reporter about the prime minister’s political turmoil on Thursday, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “As for Mr. Johnson, he doesn’t like us very much – and the feeling is mutual.”

Anton Troyanovsky made a report.