You’re number one talking point, Zelensky tells Boris Johnson

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Volodymyr Zelensky said Boris Johnson’s resignation is the biggest talking point in Ukraine  (PA)
Volodymyr Zelensky said Boris Johnson’s resignation is the biggest talking point in Ukraine (PA)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Boris Johnson for supporting his country “from the first day of the Russian terror”.

In the Ukrainian leader’s nightly video address, he said news of Mr Johnson’s decision to quit was the “main topic [of conversation] in our country”.

Mr Zelensky added that Britain held a leading global role “in the protection of freedoms” and “the leadership and charisma of the head of state are always of exceptional importance”.

As he thanked the outgoing PM, he said: “Whatever is happening in London’s rooms of power, Great Britain’s support for Ukraine should not change.”

The president said when he had expressed his gratitude to Mr Johnson as the two spoke by phone, the Tory leader had offered assurances the UK would remain steadfast in its support.

Mr Zelensky added that Ukrainian fighters were making “tangible strikes” on Russian logistical targets thanks to Western weapons.

British defence chiefs said on Thursday Ukrainian forces were “gradually” seizing territory from Vladimir Putin’s military in the south-western province of Kherson.

However, they believe the Russian president’s army is probably pausing before unleashing a fresh onslaught in the eastern Donbas, this time aimed at fully capturing the Donetsk province.

It has already gained control of the Luhansk province, which makes up the rest of the Donbas industrial region, having seized the twin cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. However Mr Putin’s troops are struggling to hold all of their earlier territorial gains, including in the Kherson area.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said: “Russia is likely concentrating equipment on the front line in the direction of Siversk, approximately 8km (five miles) west of the current Russian front line. Its forces are likely pausing to replenish…

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia’s immediate tactical objective will be Siversk, as its forces attempt to advance towards its most likely operational goal of the Sloviansk-Kramatorsk urban area.”

Military analysts say that seizing this urban area is likely to be more difficult for Russian forces given how well Ukrainian soldiers are dug in. But Putin’s generals have improved their tactics since the invasion began on February 24.

Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday told a G20 gathering in Indonesia that attempts to isolate Moscow with sanctions were akin to a declaration of economic war by the West.

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