Zelensky: UK-Ukraine relations will stay strong even if government changes

UK-Ukraine relations will stay strong whoever sits in Downing Street, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

In an interview with a UK broadcaster, the Ukrainian war-time leader also joked he has had a good relationship “with all your prime ministers”.

It comes after Rishi Sunak visited Kyiv last week to unveil a new £2.5 billion military aid package and vowed to continue to stand with the country in its fight against Russia.

Mr Zelensky told Channel 4 News on Friday: “The UK has been with us from those first days until now, and I have and had that with all your prime ministers…”

“There have been a few,” the interviewer interjected.

“Some, yeah,” the Ukrainian president laughed, before continuing: “But also with intelligence, we have very good relations.”

Asked whether that will continue even if the Tory Government is replaced at the general election this year, Mr Zelensky praised the UK’s “strong institutions”.

“So people can be changed but institutionally, historically, the relations between countries we have to save,” the Ukrainian president said.

Pressed on whether he believes that will remain the case whoever sits in No 10, he said: “In Downing Street and in Bankova (the unofficial name for the office of the Ukrainian president), I think so yes.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Mr Zelensky has dealt with three UK premiers – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Mr Sunak.

The Ukrainian president has been making a diplomatic push for Kyiv’s western allies to keep supplying weaponry, amid concerns backing for his country is fracturing.

As the conflict grinds on, US and European Union funding for Ukraine’s war-ravaged economy has been held up by political infighting.

Mr Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday discussed the “importance of allies continuing to support Ukraine’s defence”, according to Downing Street.

Following a call between the two leaders, a No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister updated on his recent visit to Kyiv, including the signing of the UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Co-operation and the UK’s announcement of £2.5 billion in further military aid for Ukraine.

“They agreed on the importance of allies continuing to support Ukraine’s defence, which is vital for European and global security, and providing the Ukrainian armed forces with the weapons they need to defeat Russia’s invasion.”

The pair also spoke of wider co-operation on defence and security and illegal migration.