Boris Johnson leaped back into the spotlight on Sunday after videos of the former British prime minister visiting Ukraine were posted online, in a move likely to irritate the Conservative government back home.
Posts on Twitter show Johnson meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and visiting the war-struck towns of Bucha and Borodyanka near Kyiv.
Johnson is a member of the British parliament but doesn’t hold any official role in the government led by Rishi Sunak.
The former prime minister was removed by his own Conservative party last year amid collapsing support in the polls and an administration dogged by a seeming never-ending series of scandals. He is now also facing questions about his financial dealings.
But in Ukraine, Johnson is regarded as a hero for his steadfast support of the country after its invasion by Russia in February 2022. He was awarded an honorary “Citizen of Kyiv” medal from the city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko at Davos last week.
The Ukraine visit — which according to the Telegraph was not announced in advance nor arranged via the British embassy — could be seen as a move to undermine Sunak. Johnson, a seasoned politician, is known for his crowd-pleasing stunts and rhetorical flourishes. Though he was removed by his fellow Conservatives, he’s still popular among a hard core of supporters in the party.
Johnson weighed into the ongoing debate about supplying Ukraine with advanced battle tanks. The U.K. has agreed to send Challenger 2 tanks to the Ukrainian battlefield, but Germany continues to hesitate about delivering Leopard 2 tanks.
“The only way to end this war is for Ukraine to win — and to win as fast as possible,” Johnson said in a statement. “This is the moment to double down, and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job.”
A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said Sunak is “always supportive of all colleagues showing that the U.K. is behind Ukraine and will continue to support them.”