Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning a trip to Ukraine to visit President Volodymyr Zelenskyі, despite concerns among senior officials that the trip could undermine the authority of incumbent Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
This is reported by The Guardian.
The former prime minister has told friends that he intends to visit Kyiv in the coming months to demonstrate his public support for the country against Russian aggressors.
Ukrainian sources also reported that Johnson "intends" to visit Kyiv, but they do not yet have "specific information" about the dates. They said that Zelenskyі and the former prime minister consider each other friends.
Johnson has positioned himself as a staunch supporter of Zelenskyі during his tenure, pushing international allies for more support in the early days of the war. The UK has provided significant economic, humanitarian and defense military aid to Ukraine, committing to spending at least £2.3bn in 2023.
A popular figure in Ukraine, Johnson frequently called his counterpart in Kyiv when he was prime minister, although he was accused of using the calls as a distraction maneuver as he faced yet another crisis at home.
Downing Street is unaware of the planned trip, although government insiders have said they are comfortable with Mr Sunak's predecessor representing Britain in this way.
Johnson, as a former prime minister, will receive taxpayer-funded security on foreign trips based on a potential threat assessment. Ukrainians are also expected to provide security, as they do for all visiting foreign dignitaries.
However, Johnson's plan to polish his profile on the world stage after leaving Downing Street has been met with some concern in Westminster, where Sunak's allies have accused his predecessor of undermining the prime minister's authority.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the House of Commons defense committee and a former army officer, warned Johnson that he should not "interfere" in official relations between the two countries.
He said: "Any high-ranking guest from the West will of course be welcomed by Kyiv, and not least the former prime minister who pioneered British military aid to Ukraine from the start."
"But Russia's resilience is greater than that of the West. Putin is retooling his industry to help the war effort and mobilizing thousands more for a major spring offensive," Ellwood noted.
"This conflict is far from over. Boris must leave no doubt that he fully supports the government, and his visit must not disrupt the exchange of messages or official lines of communication between London and Kyiv," he added.
It will be recalled that the former head of the British government, Boris Johnson, called on Western countries to urgently see what else they can do to support Ukraine, hoping to end the war against Russia in 2023.