UK promises more arms for Ukraine as Zelenskyy meets Sunak on European tour
LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war.
Zelenskyy landed by helicopter at Chequers, the British leader’s official country retreat, and was greeted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with a handshake and a hug. It’s Zelenskyy’s second trip to the U.K. since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Zelenskyy thanked Britain for its support so far, and said the war was a matter of “security not only for Ukraine, it is important for all of Europe.”
Sunak told Zelenskyy that “your leadership, your country’s bravery and fortitude are an inspiration to us all.”
This is the fourth European country Zelenskky has visited in the past few days. He is seeking more aid as Ukraine prepares a long-anticipated spring offensive to retake territory seized by Russia.
The Kremlin said it took London’s promise to supply Ukraine with more weapons “extremely negatively,” but at the same time believed the supplies wouldn’t drastically change the course of the war, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.
“Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Peskov said. “We repeat once again, it cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation (in Ukraine) is unfolding. But, definitely, it leads to further destruction, further action. … It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated.”
Sunak responded by vowing the UK’s long-term support for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s leader made an unannounced visit to Paris on Sunday evening to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, after trips to Germany and Italy, where he met those countries’ leaders and Pope Francis.
The UK has become one of Ukraine’s major military allies, sending Kyiv short-range missiles and Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil. Last week Britain announced it had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometres (150 miles) — the first known shipment of the weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.
Sunak’s office said that on Monday Britain would confirm it was giving Ukraine hundreds more air defence missiles, as well as “long-range attack drones” with a range of more than 200 kilometres (120 miles).
“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke,” Sunak said. “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.