Zelenskyy visits UK, lobbies for fighter jets: Ukraine live updates

  • In Business
  • 2023-02-08 15:57:16Z

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the U.K. on Wednesday for the first time since Russia's invasion, making a rare trip out of his war-torn country.

Zelenskyy met U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and addressed parliament in a bid for more military aid in the form of advanced weapons and "wings for freedom" fighter jets as Ukraine prepares for expected spring offensives by Russian forces.

It is Zelenskyy's second known trip outside of Ukraine since Russia's invasion began nearly a year ago. He also visited the U.S. in December.

"President Zelenskyy's visit to the UK is a testament to his country's courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries," Sunak said in a statement.


►French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris later on Wednesday, the Élysée Palace said.

►British Foreign Minister James Cleverly announced new sanctions against "Putin's inner circle and producers of Russia's warfare equipment," adding that "Putin is desperate. He will not succeed."

GRAPHICS: Mapping and tracking Russia's invasion of Ukraine

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Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, welcomes Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Downing Street in London, Wednesday, Feb.  

UK moves closer to providing Ukraine with fighter jets

Zelenskyy, wearing his trademark olive drab sweatshirt, presented the speaker of the House of Commons with a Ukrainian air force helmet, inscribed by a Ukrainian pilot: "We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it."

Th U.S., U.K and other allies have been reluctant to provide advanced fighter jets, citing the complexity of the aircraft the concerns over escalating the war. But in a shift, the British government said Wednesday it was "actively looking" at whether Ukraine could be sent Western jets, and was "in discussion with our allies" about it.

Sunak's spokesman, Max Blain, said the government was exploring what jets might be provided over the coming years, but had not made a decision on whether to send its F-35 or Typhoon jets.

"We think it is right to provide both short-term equipment … that can help win the war now, but also look to the medium to long term to make sure Ukraine has every possibility it requires," he said.

Zelenskyy addresses UK parliament, asks for jets

Zelenskyy asked allies to send Ukraine "combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom," as hundreds and lawmakers and staff packed into Westminster Hall for the Ukrainian president's address.

Zelenskyy also urged stronger sanctions against Russia and thanked Britain for its aid.

"London has stood with Kyiv since Day One," he said, handing over a combat helmet as a thank you to Britain.

UK announces pilot, marine training program for Ukraine

Zelenskyy's visit coincides with Sunak announcing that Britain will expand training for Ukrainian fighter jet pilots and marines "as part of long-term investment in their military," according to a statement from the prime minister's office.

Britain pledged to train Ukrainian pilots on "NATO standard fight jets," but the U.K. has been reluctant to meet Ukraine's ask for allies to send warplanes.

"I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future," Sunak said in a statement. "It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come."

US MILITARY AID: As Biden seeks to avoid wider war, M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine escalates conflict

The U.K. is one of Ukraine's biggest military backers and has sent the country more than $2.5 billion in aid. More than 10,000 Ukrainian troops have also trained at U.K. bases. Last week, a group of Ukrainians arrived in the U.K. to learn to operate Challenger 2 tanks Britain is sending to Ukraine.

The U.K. also on Wednesday announced a series of sanctions against six entities it said supplied equipment to the Russian military.

What's on the itinerary as Zelenskyy visits UK?

Zelenskyy arrived at London Stansted airport on a Royal Air Force plane as Sunak greeted him. Sunak tweeted a photo of the two embracing on the tarmac.

"The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine's aid. And today I'm in London to personally thank the British people for their support," Zelenskyy said on Instagram.

Zelenskyy and Sunak traveled to Downing Street amid a large convoy of vehicles before briefly posing for photos in front of the famous black door that leads into the U.K. prime minister's residence.

Zelenskyy started the meeting by thanking Britain for its "big support from the first days of full-scale invasion." He is also expected to meet with King Charles III, U.K. military chiefs and Ukrainian troops training in Britain.

US MILITARY AID: Ukraine to get 45 top battle tanks from US, Germany. How they will aid in war with Russia

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits UK for first time since Russia invasion


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  • commercial real estate Lihue
    (2023-02-09 06:52:02Z)

    Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to the United Kingdom is a major step in his efforts to improve relations between the two countries. During his visit, Zelenskyy has been advocating for the purchase of fighter jets from the UK, a move that could have significant implications on both countries. It will be interesting to see how the negotiations unfold and the potential outcomes of Zelenskyy's mission.


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