Stephen Fry said he had a “terrific talk” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to the war-torn country.
The British actor and comedian, 66, was asked to host a summit on mental health devised by the First Lady of Ukraine and held in the capital of Kyiv, which he described as a “great honour”, before meeting Mr Zelensky – a former actor and comedian – at his Presidential Offices.
Fry, who took a sleeper car from the Polish border to Kyiv, shared a picture of him laughing with Mr Zelensky during their meeting.
He captioned his Instagram post: “With my new bestie. We had a terrific talk.
“I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few world leaders in my time, but none with whom I’ve felt such an instant connection.
“I do not envy the weight of responsibility on his shoulders and a workload that would fell an ox.”
Fry’s visit came as Russian forces fired cruise missiles at Kyiv in the first aerial attack on the capital since August 30, bombarded Ukrainian ports in an effort to disrupt the country’s ability to export grain to world markets, and a missile tore through an outdoor market in eastern Ukraine killing 17 people and wounding dozens.
It was one of the deadliest bombardments of civilians in the 18-month war.
Fry shared a video of the pair meeting for the first time in the Ukrainian headquarters, greeting Mr Zelensky and saying: “Very good to meet you sir, pleasure.”
Mr Zelensky said: “Thank you for coming. Everybody very happy how you host yesterday,” to which Fry replied: “It was a great success, it was a brilliant, brilliant idea.”
Mr Zelensky gifted Fry a “map of the country” and a tote bag adorned with the colours of Ukraine that he said he hoped would be “useful”.
Fry said: “This is very kind,” before wishing him “good luck”, and adding “Slava Ukraine” – which means glory to Ukraine – upon departure.
During his visit, Fry was rushed into an air raid shelter which was followed an hour later by an announcement which said: “Your attention please, there are explosions in the city stay in your shelter,” he said on Instagram.
Speaking about the mental health summit he hosted, Fry added: “Huge credit to Ukraine itself for understanding that there is strength, not weakness, in acknowledging and addressing the mental health challenges that war brings.
“Imagine their enemy having such openness and care for their people.”