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Ukraine says Boris Johnson visit 'brings us closer to victory'

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walk along a street after a meeting, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 9, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskyy walk along a Kyiv street on Saturday. (Reuters)

Ukraine has said Boris Johnson’s surprise visit to Kyiv on Saturday has brought the country closer to victory over Russia.

The prime minister was invited to the capital by president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who had previously praised the UK government for its support during the Ukraine crisis.

Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Zelenskyy’s chief diplomatic adviser Igor Zhovkva said Johnson’s visit was a success because he did not arrive “empty-handed” - the UK announced it will send 120 armoured vehicles as well as new anti-ship missile systems.

But Zhovkva also suggested Johnson - and other leaders - coming to Ukraine is just as vital for the nation’s morale following Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion.

Watch: PM makes surprise visit to Ukraine for talks with Zelenskyy

“This is very important,” he said.

“You saw how ordinary people yesterday just greeted prime minister Johnson. They don’t believe their eyes, that they see the prime minister in the streets of Kyiv.

“Yes, we are planning for more leaders to come next week and that’s what the president will do. He will meet leaders in the capital, speak to the foreign parliaments, speak with the foreign leaders.

“Every visit, every phone call, every act of support counts and brings us to victory.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to local resident as he walks along a street with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as Russia?s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine April 9, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
Boris Johnson speaks to a local resident in Kyiv on Saturday. Ukraine has said every visit from a leader 'brings us to victory'. (Reuters)

He added the Ukrainian government had been “preparing for a while” for Johnson’s visit, in which he walked the streets of Kyiv with Zelenskyy and his aides, and held a press conference.

Zelenskyy welcomed the UK’s “decisive and significant support” for his country as he urged other Western allies to intensify the pressure on Moscow.

“We have to exert pressure in the form of sanctions. It is time to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy resources. They should increase the amount of weapons being supplied.”

Read more: Briton drives ambulances and two tonnes of medical supplies to Ukraine

Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer also visited Kyiv on Saturday, while European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was in the city on Friday.

Last month, the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia visited Kyiv in a show of support.

Russian forces recently withdrew from Kyiv following fierce resistance, though this comes amid an expected offensive on the eastern Donbas region.

Watch: PM - President Zelenskyy has been the roar of Ukraine's lion

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says Putin's war has so far resulted in 1,766 confirmed civilian deaths (including 139 children) and 2,383 injuries - but adds the actual figures will be "considerably higher".

Meanwhile, millions of people have been displaced from their homes.

Putin - and his regime - has been repeatedly accused of war crimes following reports of atrocities across Ukraine.