We learned last night that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has kept up a busy schedule of phone calls with other world leaders throughout the early days of the Russian invasion. One of the people who has been on his call list on a “daily” basis is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. BoJo has reportedly been shipping out weapons and other supplies to Ukraine virtually every day. Last night, Zelensky gave him what was described as a “shopping list” of military hardware that is desperately needed as a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian tanks and military vehicles snakes its way toward Kyiv. Johnson dutifully took down the list and informed Zelensky that the arms and supplies would be heading for Poland “in a matter of hours or days” and would then be ferried by trucks to where they are needed. (NY Post)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky presented Boris Johnson with a “shopping list” of arms needed to defeat Putin’s troops – with more British anti-tank missiles shipped over almost daily.
The PM said the latest batch of weapons would be flown out to Poland and driven into Ukraine within “hours and days.”
A source said: “Zelensky has made very specific requests for military hardware during near daily phone calls, and we are working round the clock to get them into Ukraine.”
To their credit, the Brits have been shouldering the financial burden and production strains admirably and doing everything in their power to help Ukraine short of sending troops to fight the Russians themselves. Also, Boris Johnson is clearly aware that Zelensky has quickly developed something approaching superhero status among the rest of the civilized world’s leaders, so he clearly doesn’t want to let the Ukrainian people down. (A more cynical part of me wants to point out that this crisis has given BoJo the chance to keep partygate off of the front pages for a while, also.)
An interesting moment arose during a press conference that Johnson held during his trip to Poland. A Ukrainian reporter named Daria Kaleniuk, who had made it over the border to attend the event was given the microphone and she launched into a tearful, minutes-long tirade about how the UK still isn’t doing enough. She wanted to know why the children of Vladimir Putin and his oligarch friends are “living in mansions” in London and other European cities. She accused the Brits of being “afraid of World War 3” and demanded to know why a no-fly zone still hasn’t been established. BoJo appeared taken aback, at least briefly, but still managed to deliver an answer.
“It’s impossible now to cross the border, there are 30km queues. Imagine crossing the border with a baby, or with children.
“Britain guaranteed our security under the Budapest memorandum, so you’re coming to Poland, why not to Kyiv?
“Because you are afraid, because NATO is not willing to defend, because NATO is afraid of World War Three, but its is already started.
“And these are Ukrainian children who are there and taking the hit.”
Kaleniuk’s speech truly has to be seen and heard to get the full impact. Here’s the video of it via the Guardian.
To be fair, she brings up a lot of good points, but it’s also hard to see what more Great Britain can do at this stage of the game aside from increasing its shipment of anti-tank missiles and other armaments even further. (Which they seem to be doing already.) Johnson pointed out to her that if a no-fly zone was established and enforced by the UK, they would wind up having to shoot down Russian fighter jets. And that would take this misadventure to an entirely new level.
Johnson handled his response to the reporter pretty well, I thought. He came across as compassionate and sympathetic while listing all of the things that his country has done for Ukraine thus far and what it plans to continue doing. But in the end, he didn’t succumb to the temptation to fire back at Kaleniuk over her accusation that he was “afraid to start world war 3.” The obvious answer should have been, wouldn’t you be?