Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues his tour of the major European nations today (15 May) with a meeting at the country retreat of the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak. The Ukrainian leader has held meetings in the past week in Paris, Berlin, and Rome as he continues to gather increased military aid in his country’s on-going conflict with Russia.
A spokesperson for Downing Street confirmed the surprise visit and said discussions will centre on the UK’s commitment to “sustained support” of the visiting president’s war-torn nation with “substantive negotiations” planned.
The UK has already pledged to send hundreds of new long-range drones to help the cause and today’s meeting comes just two days after Liverpool put on a wonderful show on Ukraine’s behalf, when the city hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, with total support for the citizens of the illegally invaded country evident from all around the continent, throughout the spectacular event.
Zelenskyy to receive “Chequers” flag
This latest visit by Mr Zelenskyy comes three months after a previous trip to London when he addressed the UK parliament and had an audience with King Charles III.
On that occasion it was more about increasing awareness of the needs of his country, this time around in the meeting with “his friend Rishi” at Chequers in Buckinghamshire, he is expected to receive clarification of additional resources in the form of further provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km.
The government said the extra provisions that will be confirmed later today will be delivered in the coming months. This follows a joint announcement by Mr Sunak and the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, that they had authorised the donation of long-range cruise missiles, to help counter the increased number of Russian attacks.
PM’s rallying words
Mr Sunak 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.”
He went on to point out that although the front lines of Russia’s war of aggression might currently be in the Ukraine, the fault lines he said, stretched across the globe and as a consequence, it was in everyone’s interests to ensure a Ukrainian victory. “We must not let them down and Putin’s barbarism must not be rewarded.”
Significant enhancement in capabilities on the way
The words and continued support was warmly welcomed by Mr Zelenskyy who has praised the UK even before today’s meeting describing it as a “leader” when it comes to Ukraine expanding its capabilities on the ground and in the air.
He fully expects to end the day with a further “significant enhancement” of Ukraine’s efforts in the war.
UK fully committed to support
The UK has been one of the largest suppliers of military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the fighting all the way back in February 2022, contributing £2.3bn worth of support last year and committing to a similar amount this year too and comes just as Kyiv prepares for its counter-offensive against increasing numbers of Russian forces.
Europe still strongly behind Ukraine
At the weekend the German government promised Ukraine its biggest military support package up to now, with further arms deliveries worth €2.7bn (£2.35bn).
France has also pledged additional military aid, with President Emmanuel Macron’s office declaring that the French will supply multiple light tanks and armoured vehicles “in the weeks ahead”, although specific numbers were not released.