Zelensky on surprise UK visit to pressure Sunak for more military support

Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Britain on Monday to meet Rishi Sunak for “substantive negotiations” to secure more support for his country’s war effort.

The Ukrainian president will meet his “friend,” the prime minister, as part of a trip to Europe to lobby leaders for more military aid.

Zelensky said on Twitter: “The UK is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air.

“This cooperation will continue today. I will meet my friend Rishi. We will carry out substantive negotiations face to face and in delegations.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) and Volodymyr Zelensky during the Ukrainian president’s latest visit to the UK (Peter Nicholls/PA)

(PA cord)

Rishi Sunak has said the UK will “maintain our support” for Ukraine as it prepares to meet the country’s Mr Zelensky for talks today.

The Prime Minister said: “This is a pivotal moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression that was neither chosen nor provoked.

“They need the sustained support of the international community to fend off the barrage of relentless and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.

“We must not let them down.

“The front line of Putin’s war of aggression may be in the Ukraine, but the fault lines stretch across the globe. It is in the interest of all of us to ensure that Ukraine succeeds and that (Vladimir) Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded.

“That is why the UK maintains our support for Ukraine, from tanks to training, ammunition and armored vehicles. And this message of solidarity will resonate loudly in all my meetings with other world leaders in the days to come.”

The couple will meet at the Prime Minister’s country home, Checkers, in Buckinghamshire.

Zelensky met Pope Francis at the Vatican last weekend, after Italy pledged its full support for kyiv in its defense against the Russian invasion.

Zelensky and the Pope shook hands at the Vatican over the weekend


He previously met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who condemned Russia’s “brutal and unfair aggression”, pledged Italy’s support for Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and urged Russia to withdraw immediately.

And Zelensky made his first visit to Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine, where Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz received him with military honors.

Berlin announced 2.7 billion euros (2.4 billion pounds) of military aid to Ukraine, the largest such package to date, and promised more support to Kiev for as long as it is needed.

The Ukrainian president and his team have been vigorously promoting kyiv’s 10-point peace plan and urging world leaders to hold a Global Peace Summit based on the proposals.

It calls for restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the withdrawal of Russian troops and the cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders. Zelensky has repeatedly said that the plan is not open for negotiations.

After Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had fallen back north of the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Russian troops had probably withdrawn “in a bad way”.

The Defense Ministry said Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, established last fall, was beset by allegations of low morale and limited combat effectiveness and its deployment to Bakhmut reflected a severe shortage of credible combat units for part of Moscow.

Zelensky’s visit comes after two of Vladimir Putin’s military commanders were killed in eastern Ukraine, the Russian military said, warning of a renewed effort by Kiev forces to break through in the town of Bakhmut.

More to follow…

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