Ukraine pays tribute to Boris Johnson | International

Boris Johnson and Volodímir Zelenski, last April in kyiv.
Boris Johnson and Volodímir Zelenski, last April in kyiv.STRINGER (AFP)

Thursday was a sad day for the Ukrainians. This time it was not only because of the constant threat of Russian bombs, but because the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced that he was resigning from office. For many in the UK and Europe, Johnson is a populist and a liar, but not in Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president, spoke with him by phone to express the sadness “of the entire Ukrainian society.”

The United Kingdom is the second largest international arms donor to Ukraine, although well behind the United States —23.8 billion euros. The Johnson government has so far committed military aid worth 3.8 billion euros, according to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). The European Union is the world’s main financial backer for Ukraine, but in a society with such a spirit of war, the British Prime Minister’s outspoken speeches against Russia have endeared him to Ukrainians. “We have no doubt that Britain will preserve your support, but your personal leadership and charisma have made you special,” Zelensky told him.

The relationship between Johnson and Zelensky is very fluid, with phone contacts at least once a week. The Reuters agency detailed that the British leader had gone beyond his strict competences in the national sphere and had regularly mediated with other countries and institutions to send military material to Ukraine. But above all, there is something in Johnson’s buffoonish character that charmed Ukrainians, old and young, left and right. “Ukrainians are sad,” Katia Shmorhun, a 36-year-old lawyer from kyiv, confirmed on Thursday during a walk through the capital’s historic center: “It’s not so much because of the weapons he has given us as because of his attitude. In the face of France and Germany’s more dialogue with Russia, or the increasingly moderate speech of Joe Biden [presidente de Estados Unidos]Johnson was outspoken.” Oleksandr Shcherba, a Ukrainian diplomat with a long experience in the EU, wrote on Twitter that he doubted that Johnson would have been so belligerent against Russia if the UK had been part of the EU.

The Economist has titled its cover this Friday summarizing Johnson’s goodbye as “the fall of a clown”. The same day, in the Zavertailo cafeteria in kyiv they were overwhelmed by serving the cakes Johnsoniuk, a dessert dedicated to the prime minister. The sweet, delicious treat is a small apple-cinnamon tart topped with a layer of meringue and a scoop of vanilla ice cream that represent Johnson’s tousled blonde hair. In 15 minutes at noon, during the visit of EL PAÍS, a dozen units had already been sold. The manager of the store explained that when they announced it as a novelty three weeks ago, it immediately became the best-selling product, “even surpassing our famous croissants of almonds”.

Boris the Cossack

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Marina Tsarenok, psychologist, client of the Zavertailo cafe and fan of the Johnsoniuk, admitted concern about Johnson’s relief: “More than the amount of help we receive, it is because whoever succeeds him, surely it will not be so clear speaking.” Tsarenok explained that she had read rumors on the Telegram networks that her resignation was “a Russian conspiracy”, but she did not believe it. The furor over Boris Johnson in the Ukraine does not end with a cake: the Cossack community of Chernihiv officially named him a Cossack with the name of Boris Chuprina – the chuprina it is the traditional Cossack bangs, so the translation would be Boris Long Bangs—; In Dnipro, one of the largest cities in Ukraine, there is a citizen initiative to rename an avenue after him and in Vasilkiv, south of kyiv, they will rename the riverside promenade after Johnson.

“For me he is a hero, not only for the help he has given us but for how he has behaved, without fear, like a real man,” said school teacher Svetlana Kiyenko during a vacation tour of the Ukrainian capital. Kiyenko assured with visible regret that on Thursday he was saddened by her resignation. “It is that even the second visit he made to kyiv [el pasado junio], he did it to escape from the problems he had in his country”, Shmorhun thought for his part, adding that he has acquaintances in England who, when he defends him, repeat that “he is a liar and a second Donald Trump”. “But I like how he is, that he enters a store and introduces himself with a ‘hello, I’m Boris’, commented this young woman from kyiv. The future tenant at 10 Downing Street will have a hard time winning Ukrainian hearts as the Cossack Boris Long Bangs.

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