June 6, 2023

Brighton Journal

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UK promises attack drones and more missiles to Ukraine as Zelensky meets Sunak on European tour

London (AFP) – Britain’s prime minister on Monday pledged to supply attack drones and hundreds of other missiles to Ukraine during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Ukraine. To gather support before launching a counterattack against the Russian forces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Zelensky was greeted with a handshake and hug after he landed by helicopter at Checkers, the British leader’s official retreat. It is Zelensky’s second visit to the UK since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Zelensky thanked Britain for its support thus far, and said the war was a matter of “security not only for Ukraine, it is important for all of Europe”.

He told Sunak Zelensky that “your leadership and the courage and fortitude of your country is an inspiration to all of us”.

This is the fifth European country that Zelensky has visited in the past three days, after Italy, the Vatican, Germany and France. He is seeking more aid as Ukraine prepares for its long-awaited spring offensive to recapture territory captured by Russia.

The Kremlin has said it takes London’s pledge to supply more weapons to Ukraine “very passively,” but at the same time it believes the supplies will not fundamentally change the course of the war, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

“Britain is looking forward to being at the forefront of countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Peskov said. “We repeat once again that it cannot lead to any radical and fundamental impact on the way the special military operation (in Ukraine) unfolds. But it does, for sure, lead to more destruction and more actions. … It makes this whole story for Ukraine more complexity.”

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Sunak responded by pledging long-term support from the UK to Ukraine.

The United Kingdom became one of Ukraine’s main military allies, sending Kiev short-range missiles and Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers on British soil. Britain announced last week It has sent Ukrainian Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers (150 miles) — the first known shipment of weapons Kiev has long sought from its allies.

Sunak’s office also said it was giving Ukraine hundreds more air defense missiles, as well as “long-range attack drones” with a range of more than 200 kilometers (120 miles).

“This is a defining moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a horrific war of aggression that they did not choose or provoke,” Sunak said. “They need the continued support of the international community to defend against the barrage of relentless and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.

“We must not let them down.”

Zelensky had said that one of his missions on the flight was to build a “fighter plane alliance” to provide Ukraine with vital defenses from the skies. He said more work was needed on this front.

While the UK will not provide the aircraft, the Prime Minister said it will be a key part of the coalition and will start training Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as this summer.

Downing Street said Sunak would push allies to provide more support for Ukraine at a meeting of G7 leaders in Japan later this week.

While Zelensky was visiting European capitals, Russia escalated its attacks across Ukraine with drones and missiles. On Sunday, regional officials said on Telegram that Russia bombed a gathering in the northern border region of Sumy. They added that 109 explosions were recorded.

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On Monday, Zelensky’s office said the bombing had killed nine civilians and wounded 19 others in the past day. Six of the dead were in the Kherson region. Two civilians were killed in Chuhiv, in the Kharkiv region, and one in Primorsk, on the coast of the Sea of ​​Azov, 12 miles (20 km) from Russian-occupied Berdyansk.

The presidential office also reported that the village of Maranet, which is across the river from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, was bombed.

Zelensky’s stop in Britain followed an unannounced visit to Paris on Sunday night, where he met French President Emmanuel Macron..

Macron’s office said France would supply dozens of light tanks, armored vehicles and more air defense systems “in the coming weeks”, without giving specific numbers.

Macron’s office said about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers would receive training in France this year and about 4,000 more in Poland as part of a broader European effort.

France sent a plane to transport Zelensky in Germany, where he met Chancellor Olaf Schultz earlier Sunday.

This is his first visit to Berlin since the invasion began and comes a day after the German government announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion).

Germany overcame its initial reluctance to become one of the largest arms suppliers to Ukraine, including the Leopard 1 and 2 battle tanks and the advanced IRIS-T SLM air defense system. Modern Western equipment is crucial if Ukraine is to succeed in its planned counter-offensive.

On Saturday, Zelensky met Pope Francis in the Vatican and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome.

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During his European visit, Zelensky said that Ukraine would aim to liberate Russian-occupied regions within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, not to attack Russian territory.

Among the regions still occupied by Russia are Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine with Russian-speaking populations.

The Washington Post cited previously undisclosed documents from a trove of US intelligence leaks indicating that Zelensky had considered trying to seize areas of Russia suitable for potential use as bargaining chips in peace negotiations to end the war waged by Moscow.

This would put him at odds with Western governments who have insisted that the weapons they provide must not be used to attack targets in Russia.

“We have neither the time nor the strength (to attack Russia),” Zelensky said when asked about the report, according to an official interpreter. And we also have no weapons to spare that we can do.


Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine