Zelensky blow to Boris comeback bid: I wouldn’t back him for PM - I’m friends with Rishi

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has delivered a blow to Boris Johnson’s comeback bid, saying he could not support him returning as prime minister.

Days after Mr Johnson’s trip to Kyiv, Mr Zelensky was quizzed about his relationship with the former PM, who he described as a “true friend” during his final days in office.

Mr Johnson was one of the most vocal backers of Ukraine on the world stage after the Russian invasion began last year, and since leaving No 10 he has continued to offer support to Mr Zelensky.

But, in an interview withSky News, Mr Zelensky insisted it is “not correct” for him to support any comeback bid, saying he has “good relations” with Rishi Sunak.

Boris Johnson with Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine last week (Handout)
Boris Johnson with Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine last week (Handout)

“I think that is not correct for me to support Johnson to be prime minister,” Mr Zelensky said.

“We have good relations with Sunak. I think we had more long relations with Johnson, because it was more [of a] long time.

“I saw Johnson in different situations, I saw him not in war and then in full-scale war – that’s why we have special relations.”

It comes just days after Mr Johnson made an unannounced visit to Ukraine at the invitation of Mr Zelensky.

Mr Zelensky also declined to say whether Mr Johnson should get an official role representing the UK in Ukraine, appearing to laugh at the suggestion and indicating he might not be ready for such a role.

Asked if he wanted to see him in the envoy role, he said: “He will be ambassador for Britain in Ukraine? With pleasure, with pleasure. He’s a good guy. I’m not sure that he’s ready for such… because… but who knows? With pleasure, with pleasure, really.”

The Ukrainian leader also used the interview to warn there must be no delay in the US and Germany sending tanks to the country.

In a major breakthrough, German chancellor Olaf Scholz this week approved the supply of Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, while the US confirmed it will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks.

The UK had already become the first Western nation to promise main battle tanks, with around 14 Challenger 2s pledged by Mr Sunak.

Mr Zelensky said: “Overall I am grateful to the world for their support of Ukraine. But if we are talking frankly and honestly with you, the number of tanks and delivery time are of crucial and critical importance, in comparison to the decision that has been made.

“We have approved cases of weapons to be sent to us, but we still haven’t received them. Sometimes the delivery of the weapons takes months, you understand?”

He said he does not blame anyone, but added that “a sense of relief comes only after the weapons, which our partners give us, are already being used by our army”.