British embassy in Kyiv to reopen in show of support for Ukraine, PM announces

22 April 2022, 12:05 | Updated: 22 April 2022, 12:52

The British embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is to reopen next month
The British embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is to reopen next month. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The British embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is to reopen next month, Boris Johnson told a news conference in New Dehli.

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The prime minister said the move was made possible due to "extraordinary fortitude and success" of Ukraine in resisting Russian forces in the capital.

Britain moved its embassy away from the Ukrainian capital in February before Russia invaded the country as a precaution amid rising tensions.

The PM said: "The extraordinary fortitude and the success of president Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people in resisting Russian forces in Kyiv means that I can announce today that we will very shortly - next week - reopen our embassy in Ukraine's capital city.

"I want to pay tribute to those British diplomats who remained elsewhere in the region throughout this period.

"The United Kingdom and our allies will not watch passively as Putin carries on this onslaught."

Mr Johnson said he was "all in favour" of ministers heading to the British embassy in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv when it reopens next month.

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Mr Johnson said it was, sadly, a "realistic possibility" when asked if he agreed with intelligence that the Russian bombardment could continue to the end of next year, and with Russian victory.

He said: "(Vladimir) Putin has a huge army. He has a very difficult political position because he's made a catastrophic blunder.

"The only option he now has, really, is to continue to try to use his appalling, grinding approach driven by artillery, trying to grind the Ukrainians down."

"I think no matter what military superiority Vladimir Putin may be able to bring to bear in the next few months, and I agree it could be a long period, he will not be able to conquer the spirit of the Ukrainian people."

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Russian forces retreated from the capital in recent weeks, instead refocusing efforts in the eastern Donbas region.

In a UK Ministry of Defence update this morning, officials said "heavy shelling and fighting continues" as Russia seeks to advance further towards settlements including Krasnyy Lyman, Buhayikva, Barvinkove, Lyman and Popasna as part of their plans for the region.

Adding: "Putin's decision to blockade the Azovstal steel plant likely indicates a desire to contain Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol and free up Russian forces to be deployed elsewhere in eastern Ukraine.

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"A full ground assault by Russia on the plant would likely incur significant Russian casualties, further decreasing their overall combat effectiveness.

"Despite Russia's renewed focus they are still suffering from losses sustained earlier in the conflict. In order to try and reconstitute their depleted forces, they have resorted to transiting inoperable equipment back to Russia for repair."

After nearly two months of bombardment that largely reduced Mariupol to a smoking ruin, Russian forces appear to control the rest of the strategic southern city, including its vital but now badly damaged port.

But a few thousand Ukrainian troops, by Moscow's estimate, have stubbornly held out for weeks at the steel factory, despite a pummelling from Russian forces and repeated demands for their surrender.

About 1,000 civilians are also trapped there, according to Ukrainian officials.

Putin ordered his troops to seal off the stronghold "so that not even a fly comes through", instead of storming it.