Jul 7, 2022 - World

Kremlin gloats, Zelensky "saddened" by resignation of Boris Johnson

Zelensky and Boris Johnson walk in Kyiv
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walk in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 09, 2022

Ukraine expressed sadness, while Russia welcomed the downfall of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Driving the news: Johnson, who has championed military support for Ukraine and developed a strong bond with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, announced Thursday he was resigning as leader of the Conservative Party and would step down as prime minister once a new leader has been chosen.

What they're saying: "Friend Boris Johnson, all Ukrainians were saddened by the news of the resignation of the leader of the Conservative Party," Zelensky said on Telegram.

  • "We are sincerely grateful for the decisive and uncompromising help from the first days of the war," he added. "We have no doubt that the UK's support will be preserved. We will forever remain true friends and strong allies."
  • Zelensky also thanked Johnson for his support in a phone call on Thursday and concluded by saying, "You’re a hero, everybody loves you," according to the U.K. readout of the call.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, welcomed Johnson's political troubles, with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov saying just before the British prime minister's resignation announcement: "He doesn't like us, we don't like him either."

  • Other Russian officials used more colorful language. "The moral of the story is: do not seek to destroy Russia," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Telegram.
  • "Russia cannot be destroyed. You can break your teeth on it and then choke on them," Zakharova added.

The big picture: For his part, Johnson addressed Ukrainians in his resignation speech Thursday: "Let me say now, to the people of Ukraine, that I know that we in the U.K. will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes." He reiterated that message in Thursday's call with Zelensky.

  • Flashback: In a surprise visit in April, Johnson became the first G7 leader to travel to Kyiv since the war began.

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