The outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Wednesday, marking six months since Russia begun its full-scale invasion of the country which also falls on Ukraine’s Independence Day.
Announcing the visit on Twitter, 10 Downing Street shared an image of Johnson speaking to Zelensky outside the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv and added Johnson’s message was: “Ukraine can and will win this war.”
Johnson has been one of the most vocal supporters of Ukraine as it tries to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked assault and the trip on Wednesday was his third visit to the Ukrainian capital since the war started in late February.
He became one of the first foreign leaders to make the precarious trip to the Ukrainian capital in late April, then returned on another surprise visit in June. Downing Street said Wednesday’s visit was Johnson’s last trip to Ukraine before he steps down next month.
While many foreign leaders and other top officials have traveled to Ukraine in recent months, Johnson stands out as one of the most frequent visitors. Polish President Andrzej Duda has also visited Kyiv three times so far this year.
Johnson has forged a close relationship with Zelensky, who said he was sad to see the British PM leave office when the ruling Conservative Party forced him to resign in July.
On Wednesday, Zelensky presented Johnson with a parting gift, awarding him the Order of Liberty for “the work that Boris has been doing for our country and all of Europe.”
“Ukraine is lucky to have a friend not everyone is lucky to have,” Zelensky said, adding that the aid it has received from the UK “really brings us closer to victory.”
The UK has poured more than £2.3 billion ($2.71 billion) into military and financial aid to Ukraine since the invasion began, according to a statement from Downing Street.
On Wednesday, the UK government announced it will provide Ukraine with mine-hunting vehicles and drones worth £54 million ($63.5 million). It said it will also send Ukraine mine-hunting vehicles that are designed to help detect mines in water 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. Portugal’s Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho visited earlier in the day, saying on Twitter it was “an honour and a privilege to be here on such a significant day for Ukraine. Count on Portugal’s full solidarity and support!”
Johnson and Gomes Cravinho traveled to Ukraine despite warnings that Moscow might chose to step up attacks because of Ukraine’s Independence Day.
Zelensky himself had previously warned Ukrainians to take extra caution on Independence Day, emphasizing in his nightly address Tuesday that “hideous Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible.”
CNN’s Niamh Kennedy, Benjamin Brown, Radina Gigova and Karem Smith contributed to this article.