PM Rishi Sunak welcomes President Zelenskyy to the UK ahead of anticipated Ukrainian military surge
President Zelenskyy has arrived in the UK this morning for discussions with the Prime Minister on Ukraine’s ongoing military resistance to Putin’s brutal invasion.
The President will update the Prime Minister on his meetings with European leaders over the weekend as Ukraine prepares for an intensified period of military activity.
This visit also comes ahead of the Council of Europe Summit in Iceland, which the Prime Minister will attend and President Zelenskyy will attend virtually, and the G7 Summit in Japan. The Prime Minister will use these gatherings to push for sustained international support for Ukraine, both in terms of military aid and long-term security assurances.
Last week the UK confirmed that we have provided Storm Shadow precision missiles to Ukraine. This is the first long-range cruise missile in Ukraine’s arsenal and will be critical in helping the country defend against the relentless bombardment of their critical national infrastructure.
Today the Prime Minister will confirm the further UK provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km. These will all be delivered over the coming months as Ukraine prepares to intensify its resistance to the ongoing Russian invasion.
This equipment will support Ukraine over the coming months in their anticipated military surge to counter Russian forces. During their meeting today the Prime Minister will discuss with President Zelenskyy what support Ukraine needs from the international community, both in terms of immediate military equipment and long-term defences.
The Prime Minister is working with partners in the G7, NATO and beyond to provide Ukraine with the kind of assurances and capabilities it needs to strengthen and guard its long-term security beyond the end of the war – putting Ukraine in the strongest possible position to seek a fair and lasting peace.
The Prime Minister said:
“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke. They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.
“We must not let them down. The frontlines of Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine but the fault lines stretch all over the world. It is in all our interest to ensure Ukraine succeeds and Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded.
“That is why the UK is sustaining our support to Ukraine – from tanks to training, ammunition to armoured vehicles. And this message of solidarity will ring loud in all my meetings with fellow world leaders in the days ahead.”
President Zelenskyy will hold talks with the Prime Minister at Chequers, becoming the first world leader the Prime Minister has hosted at the residence. This visit follows President Zelenskyy’s visit to the UK in February, which was only the second time the leader had left Ukraine since Putin’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
In their talks, the Prime Minister will reiterate the importance the UK places on providing a total package of support to Ukraine to put them in the strongest possible position to secure a lasting peace for their country.
This means the military equipment we provide must be bolstered by training, by economic support, by biting sanctions against Putin’s regime and by long-term security assurances to ensure Ukraine’s sovereignty can never be breached in this way again.
To that end, in the last year the UK has trained 15,000 Ukrainian troops to battlefield readiness. In February the Prime Minister announced the UK would develop a new training programme for Ukrainian pilots to support their efforts to build a new Ukrainian air force with NATO-standard, F16 jets.
This summer we will commence an elementary flying phase for cohorts of Ukrainian pilots to learn basic training. This will adapt the programme used by UK pilots to provide Ukrainians with piloting skills they can apply a different kind of aircraft. This training goes hand in hand with UK efforts to work with other countries on providing F16 jets – Ukraine’s fighter jets of choice.
Next month the UK will host a Ukraine Recovery Conference to galvanise international investment to support Ukraine’s reconstruction, promoting those emerging sectors where the country was thriving before Putin’s full-scale invasion such as clean energy and tech.
The UK provided £2.3 billion worth of military support to Ukraine in 2022 – more than any country other than the US – and the Prime Minister has committed to sustain that level of support this year.
So far in 2023 the UK has provided equipment including a squadron of Challenger 2 main battle tanks, self-propelled guns, hundreds of armoured vehicles and sophisticated missiles including Starstreak and Storm Shadow. Today’s announcements are further to these previous donations.
Since the outbreak of full-scale war the UK has also trained 15,000 Ukrainian troops in the UK, on top of the 22,000 troops trained in Ukraine between 2014 and 2022 under Operation Orbital.
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