It's unclear whether the former British PM's words changed the Republican frontrunner's mind
Boris Johnson met with ex-US President Donald Trump and tried to convince him of "the vital importance of Ukrainian victory," a spokesperson for the former British PM told reporters on Friday. Trump has refused to endorse Kiev's military goals, calling instead for a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Russia.
Johnson had dinner with Trump on Thursday, his spokesperson told multiple US and UK media outlets. "Boris Johnson MP met President Donald J. Trump to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the vital importance of Ukrainian victory," they said.
Johnson has been on a speaking tour of the US for the past week in a bid to drum up support for Ukraine from a Republican Party whose voter base is increasingly skeptical of continued US aid for Kiev. "I just urge you all to stick with it," he told a crowd of conservative lobbyists and donors in Texas on Monday, adding that their support "will pay off massively in the long run."
From the beginning of Russia's military operation in Ukraine last February and beyond his resignation as prime minister last summer, Johnson has consistently been one of the most fervent backers of Ukraine and its president, Vladimir Zelensky. Johnson was one of the first Western leaders to meet with Zelensky in Kiev, and reportedly pushed his Ukrainian counterpart to back out of a Turkish-brokered peace deal last April.
Trump, on the other hand, has repeatedly called for peace. Accusing US President Joe Biden of risking a third world war by funneling tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine, Trump has promised to have the conflict settled "in one day" if elected president next year.
Asked by CNN whether he wants "Ukraine to win this war," Trump said earlier this month that he thinks "in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people and breaking down this country." Pressed on the issue, Trump would not commit to backing Kiev. "They are dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to stop dying," he said.
Johnson's spokesperson did not say whether or not Trump was receptive to the former PM's persuasion.
The conditions for victory put forward by Zelensky include Moscow ceding the territories of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, Zaporozhye, and Crimea to Ukraine, as well as the payment of reparations to Kiev. Russia has said it is open to resolving the conflict diplomatically, but that any peace deal must include Kiev committing to neutrality and recognizing the "new territorial realities" of the above-mentioned regions voting to join Russia.
Although Biden has promised to keep arming Ukraine "for as long as it takes" to achieve these objectives, some prominent US officials and commentators have cast doubt on whether Kiev's forces will be able to wage a successful counteroffensive, let alone capture Crimea, which voted to join Russia in 2014.