Boris Johnson calls on Rishi Sunak to urgently ramp up support for Ukraine

Boris Johnson has called on the government to urgently “ramp up” its military support to Ukraine.

In a direct challenge to Rishi Sunak the former Prime Minister warned that Britain must “go further” in helping the war torn nation repel Vladimir Putin’s barbaric Russian invaders.

Mr Johnson said the UK should provide more “sophisticated artillery”, insisting the extra military muscle is needed immediately.

And he warned this week’s arms talks between Putin and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un presents a “new threat”, making it even more urgent to “double down” support for Ukraine.

His dramatic intervention comes after Volodymir Zelensky said the West allowed Russia to gain a foothold in Ukraine by taking “too long” to supply weapons.

The Ukrainian President said he was grateful to allies for their support but hit out at critics who have suggested that Kyiv’s counteroffensive is failing to proceed quickly enough.

Britain has already shelled out £4.6 billion to supply Ukraine with tanks, heavy artillery, anti tank weapons, air defence systems and fighter jet training.

But Mr Johnson, who has just returned from a visit to Ukraine, said more must be done to beef up the UK’s military assistance.

“I just returned from a brilliant trip to Ukraine where I met President Zelenskyy in Kyiv,” he said.

“The Ukrainian spirit is stronger than ever.”

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Despite reports that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is faltering Mr Johnson insisted the country’s fighters are driving the Russians back.

“They have made huge military progress and continue to do so,” he said. “Don’t believe the naysayers.”

Urging more UK support, he added: “We can help the Ukrainians secure a massive victory. The UK is doing a great job – but we all must go further.

“We need strategic patience to support Ukrainian gains and we need to ramp up military assistance. There is only one good outcome to this war: a Ukrainian victory. And that is in the UK’s national interest.

“So let’s get on with it and send the sophisticated artillery and other equipment that the Ukrainians need now.”

Mr Johnson also set his crosshairs on the Kremlin and its Communist allies following Monday’s summit at the Vostochny space centre in eastern Russia where the two dictators discussed “possibilities” for military cooperation..

He said: “This alliance of pariahs presents a new threat and makes it even more urgent to double down support for Ukraine.”

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The robust remarks come days after Mr Johnson received a hero’s welcome as he returned to Ukraine at the weekend to receive another award in the country he has championed.

Flag waving crowds lined the streets in Lviv before the ex-premier was given a doctorate by the city’s Ivan Franko National University.

Mr Johnson was shown donning a cap and robes – and holding a bunch of flowers – as he accepted the honorary title of ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’ from the university.

In further footage the former Tory leader earned cheers and whoops as he waved to fans in the city centre.

He already holds the country’s highest award for foreign nationals – the Ukrainian ‘Order of Liberty’ which he received on his final visit to Kyiv before he stood down as PM last year.

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The medal was presented to Mr Johnson last August in a ceremony led by Mr Zelensky.

He has subsequently been made an ‘honorary citizen of Kyiv’ to add to the same title he holds for the port city of Odesa.

Mr Johnson added that the Ukrainian President continues to be “incredibly moved” by the support of the British people towards his country.

“President Zelenskyy wanted me to pass on a message of thanks to the people of the UK for all their steadfast and ongoing support,” he said.

“He is incredibly moved by the solidarity of the British people and as we continue to do even more to help Ukraine, we remain side by side with him and the Ukrainian war effort”.

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