Sunak meets Zelenskyy on surprise Ukraine trip

Advertisement

Britain’s new air-defense package, valued at £50 million, comes as Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other key infrastructure from the air, causing widespread blackouts…reports Asian Lite News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised 125 anti-aircraft guns and other air-defense technology as he made an unannounced visit Saturday — his first — to Ukraine’s snow-blanketed war-time capital for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The air-defense package, which Britain valued at £50 million, comes as Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other key infrastructure from the air, causing widespread blackouts for millions of Ukrainians as the frigid cold of winter draws near.

The package includes radar and other technology to counter Iran-supplied exploding drones that Russia has used against Ukrainian targets. It comes on top of a delivery of more than 1,000 anti-air missiles that Britain announced earlier this month.

The UK has been one of the staunchest Western supporters of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, giving Kyiv £2.3 billion in military aid.

Zelenskyy described the two countries as “the strongest of allies.”

“With friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory. Both of our nations know what it means to stand up for freedom,” the Ukrainian leader said on Twitter.

“The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak said in comments alongside Zelenskyy in the presidential palace. “In years to come we will tell our grandchildren of your story.”

He pledged that Britain “will stand with you until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves and then we will stand with you as you rebuild your great country.”

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who stepped down in July amid a welter of ethics scandals, won wide praise in Ukraine for his backing.

Sunak is keen to reassure Ukraine’s leaders that there will be no change of stance under his leadership, though when he was Treasury chief under Johnson he was considered resistant to demands for higher defense spending.

During his visit to Kyiv, Sunak laid flowers at a memorial for the war dead and lit a candle at a memorial for victims of a deadly Soviet-era famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. He also met first responders at a fire station.

Sunak said it was “deeply humbling” to visit Kyiv “and to have the opportunity to meet those who are doing so much, and paying so high a price, to defend the principles of sovereignty and democracy,”

Zelenskyy said “we discussed the most important issues both for our countries and for global security.”

“Together we are stronger and we will achieve the desired results,” he said on Telegram.

Video that Zelenskyy posted showed him greeting Sunak at a presidential palace as snowflakes fell and the two men holding talks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “I am proud of how the UK stood with Ukraine from the very beginning. And I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace. While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air. We are today providing new air defence, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.”

Recognising that Ukrainians face a very difficult winter, with widespread blackouts of destruction of homes, schools and hospitals, the Prime Minister has also confirmed £12 million for the World Food Programme’s response, as well as £4 million for the International Organisation for Migration. The funding will help provide generators, shelter, water repairs and mobile health clinics. The UK is also sending tens of thousands of extreme cold winter kits for Ukrainian troops.

Working with the Government of Ukraine, the UK has identified an initial eight construction projects to be supported by UK Export Finance, helping to repair Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and lay the foundations for economic recovery. The projects include six bridges and two housing projects, including a development in Bucha for some 2,250 residents.

ALSO READ: Labour Party mounts attack on Sunak

[mc4wp_form id=""]