Ukraine's Zelenskyy believes Boris 'cares more about European peace than energy bills'

28 March 2022, 19:45 | Updated: 28 March 2022, 19:57

Boris Johnson has enjoyed a very good relationship with Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Boris Johnson has enjoyed a very good relationship with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson is viewed by Ukraine’s president as caring more about European peace more than "just energy bills", LBC has been told.

The Economist's Russia editor Arkady Ostrovsky, who visited Volodymyr Zelenskyy's war bunker to speak to the leader, told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr that the UK is viewed very positively in Kyiv.

Britain has provided missiles and training to Ukrainian forces and the Government has been among its staunchest supporters on the world stage – with Mr Zelenskyy never failing to shy away from calling out other states he believes have been lacking in help.

And speaking to Andrew, Mr Ostrovsky gave insight into Mr Zelenskyy's thinking about Mr Johnson. He believes the Prime Minister is putting the war effort as a higher priority than energy bills, despite the cost of living taking ever-bigger chunks out of ordinary Brits' wallets.

Watch Tonight with Andrew Marr exclusively on Global Player every Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 7pm.

Andrew Marr: Is Joe Biden losing it - and how does the West want this war to end?

Read more: UK 'could see food shortages as prices surge' as minister insists 'we can't cover all costs'

"He genuinely feels that Britain is the only country, or one of the very few countries that, as he put it, has 'independence and bravery' to not to be particularly balanced, and to do the right thing," Mr Ostrovsky said.

"Not to think about pragmatism, but to understand what's at stake here, and what's at stake is peace in Europe, not just energy bills.

"I think he feels that Johnson is somebody he can talk to... but I think he genuinely feels Britain has been supporting [them]."

Mr Ostrovsky also said that Mr Johnson "understands" Ukraine is "fighting on behalf, and for, Europe".

Mr Zelenskyy has always called out countries he feels have not been as helpful as he hoped, taking aim at states like Germany or Hungary.

He has spoken very favourably about the UK, which has now also dispatched anti-air missiles to help Ukraine's military try to shoot down Russia's vast array of attack jets and helicopters.

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.

And Mr Ostrovsky, who secured an interview with the Ukrainian president in his Kyiv bunker, said Mr Zelenskyy is "convinced" his country will win the war.

He said that for the president, "victory means surviving, and to him saving as many Ukrainian lives as possible" as opposed to capturing swathes of "land".

And he said the president appeared "unassuming" instead of breaking out into any grandiose, war-leader rhetoric, and he had a "normal" conversation.

While it appears that while Mr Ostrovsky believes Mr Zelenskyy has not slept well lately, he will be encouraged by the way his forces are taking the fight back to Russia.

Kyiv’s forces have launched small counter attacks against the invaders, retaking some territory. On Monday, the mayor of Irpin, a town near Kyiv, said the area had been taken back by Ukraine.

Mr Zelenskyy again confirmed he would be willing to explore Ukrainian neutrality in peace talks. However, concerns over the talks rose on Monday when it emerged Roman Abramovich, the sanctioned Russian oligarch who has tried to mediate discussions, suffered apparent poisoning after speaking with Ukrainian delegates who were also affected.