• Boris Johnson told GOP lawmakers Monday that support for Ukraine would "pay off massively"
  • Russia's Wagner Group said Saturday it took full control of Bakhmut
  • Ukraine's European allies are reportedly concerned about whether support for the war-torn nation can hold up

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been sent to the United States to urge Republican support for Ukraine amid Russia's claim that it has taken over the battle's center, Bakhmut.

Bipartisan pro-Ukraine think tank Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) tapped Johnson to encourage Texan Republicans to support Ukraine's battle for independence during a lunch meeting in Dallas Monday, Politico reported.

"I just urge you all to stick with it. It will pay off massively in the long run," Johnson told GOP lawmakers from Texas at the meeting, which the outlet attended.

Johnson's move in Texas comes at a time when Ukraine faces pressure following Russia's claim that it successfully took over the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Russia's private army Wagner Group said Saturday that it gained total control of Bakhmut, but the Ukrainian government clarified the flight was still ongoing. Kyiv did admit, however, that the battle was in a "critical" state.

The Ukrainian military released footage and images of the devastation in Bakhmut. "This is what our path to victory looks like: difficult and risky. The only choice for all who have stood up in defense of Ukraine, all of those for whom the war has become [their] work and [their] calling at the same," the Ukraine Special Operations Forces (UASOF) said in a Facebook post, as per a translation by Pravda.

Ukraine continues to contest Russia's claim in Bakhmut, and Ukrainian troops are "poised to retake" the city, according to The Hill.

Johnson also told The Morning Dallas News Monday that supporting Ukraine was "the right thing to do." He said failing to back up Ukraine at this point would result in Russian President Vladimir Putin doing "worse things."

During the luncheon, Johnson warned that if Russia successfully defeats Ukraine, it would have "sent an immediate signal around the world that we're not prepared to stick up for democracy."

The former London mayor also said it was thanks to American assistance that Russia would "be defeated."

"The message I want to get over to you today ... is that you're backing the right horse. Ukraine is going to win," he said.

The newspaper also noted that Johnson paid a visit to former President George W. Bush during his U.S. trip. The two discussed the war in Ukraine and also talked about art.

As part of his Texas visit, Johnson will meet Gov. Greg Abbott in Austin Tuesday. The meeting is expected to focus on economic development.

Alina Polyakova, CEPA's chief executive, said Johnson is seen as "the architect of the Western policy" on Ukraine, adding that the former U.K. foreign secretary had "a lot of credibility as well with the base of the Republican Party."

Johnson's plea to Texan Republicans also comes at a critical time in the GOP. Two GOP frontrunners, who are poised to become potential candidates for the 2024 presidential election, have already expressed skepticism over U.S. support in Ukraine.

Ex-president Donald Trump recently said he would "end the killing and bloodshed and bring peace to Europe and the World." He added that President Joe Biden was bringing "the world ever closer to nuclear war" in America's backing of Ukraine.

In mid-March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Ukraine war was merely a "territorial dispute" and should not have an effect on U.S. national interests. He did backtrack on his comment amid mounting pressure from other Republicans who expressed concern about how DeSantis described the conflict, as per AP News.

Johnson rallied for Ukraine support in January, when he met Republican lawmakers in Washington amid calls from some hardline GOP House members to halt U.S. military aid to the war-torn nation.

Ukraine's European allies are increasingly becoming concerned about commitments toward backing Ukraine. A senior European official told Financial Times (FT) last week that while the current level of support could be held up for about a year or two, it couldn't keep up in the long run.

"We can't keep the same level of assistance forever," the unidentified senior official said.

While the Biden White House has not indicated that the U.S. will reduce or pull out support, the 2024 election may determine whether the world's largest economy can retain its support for Ukraine.

There is also concern about U.S. support not paying off as Johnson has been selling to GOP lawmakers.

"It is important for America to sell this war as a successful one, also for domestic purposes to prove that all of those aid packages have been successful in terms of Ukrainian advances," another European official told FT.

The U.S. has provided more than $75 billion in humanitarian, financial and military support for Ukraine since the war began last year, as per the Council on Foreign Relations.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves his home, in London
Boris Johnson previously urged Republicans to support Ukraine in the war during a January visit to Washington. Reuters