Volodymyr Zelensky has heaped praise on Boris Johnson for ‘helping more’ than other leaders in the battle against Russia.
The Ukrainian president gave the PM a positive write-up, saying he had been backed by the outpouring of emotion from Britons, as he revealed his assessment of the response by Western countries.
The verdict on Emmanuel Macron was particularly scathing, with France accused of being hesitant in sending weapons ‘because they are afraid of Russia’.
Speaking in Kyiv, Mr Zelensky told the Economist magazine that Germany ‘are making a mistake’ by trying to take a balanced approach due to deep economic ties with Moscow.
Mr Johnson has forged a close relationship with the Ukrainian leader, speaking to him almost daily. Sources say that the calls are often emotional, with the PM said to be ‘moist around the eyes’ after being updated on the staunch resistance to Vladimir Putin.
Mr Zelensky said in the interview that ‘Britain is definitely on our side’ and is ‘not performing a balancing act’, but declined to say whether the UK wants to end the war quickly at any cost.
Asked if the PM had been keener than Mr Macron to send weapons, Mr Zelensky responded: ‘Yes. To be honest, Johnson is a leader who is helping more.
‘The leaders of countries react according to how their constituents act. In this case, Johnson is an example.’
Volodymyr Zelensky has heaped praise on Boris Johnson for ‘helping more’ than other leaders in the battle against Russia
The Ukrainian president gave the PM (pictured in Westminster on Friday) a positive write-up, saying he had been backed by the outpouring of emotion from Britons
The verdict on Emmanuel Macron was particularly scathing, saying France was hesitant in sending weapons ‘because they are afraid of Russia’
Mr Zelensky’s comments last night were followed by a late-night video interview with independent Russian journalists in which he reiterated earlier statements that signalled he was willing to discuss neutrality with Russia.
The president added that Ukraine could consider offering security guarantees to the Kremlin involving his government agreeing to stay out of Nato.
Ukraine would also remain nuclear-free, he said.
He told the reporters that the issue of neutrality should be put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw.
He said a vote could take place within a few months of the troops leaving.
At a summit of Nato leaders last week, Mr Johnson said sending the tanks and fighter jets requested by Mr Zelensky would be very difficult ‘logistically’ but did not rule it out.
In contrast, Mr Macron warned providing armoured vehicles and fighter jets could drag Nato into a direct conflict with Russia by crossing a ‘red line’.
Mr Zelensky put foreign nations into categories, ranging from those who want the conflict to end quickly by any means so they can keep access to Russian markets to those supporting the Ukrainian people who ‘want the war to end quickly at any cost’.
‘Britain is definitely on our side. It is not performing a balancing act. Britain sees no alternative for the way out of the situation,’ he said.
‘Britain wants Ukraine to win and Russia to lose, but I’m not ready to say whether Britain wants the war to drag on or not.’
Meanwhile, the UK has distanced from Joe Biden’s apparent call for regime change in Moscow – after he said in an impassioned speech that Mr Putin ‘cannot remain in power’.
Vladimir Putin (pictured) has been urged to call a ceasefire and enter talks after his invasion of Ukraine stalled
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said Mr Putin’s fate is ‘up to the Russian people’ after the White House scrambled to row back on the remark.
In a highly charged speech in Warsaw, Mr Biden appealed to Russian people directly with comparisons between the invasion of Ukraine and the horrors of the Second World War.
‘For God’s sake this man cannot remain in power,’ he said at the close of his speech about the Russian president he earlier described as a ‘butcher’.
But a White House official swiftly tried to clarify and argued that the US President’s point was that the Russian leader ‘cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region’.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken insisted ‘we do not have a strategy of regime change’ as the Kremlin said it is ‘not up to the Americans to decide who will remain in power in Russia’.
French President Emanuel Macron said he ‘wouldn’t use those terms’ voiced by Mr Biden and suggested they could make it harder to resolve the conflict, adding: ‘We want to stop the war that Russia launched in Ukraine, without waging war and without escalation.’