Britain promises Ukraine more guns as Zelenskyy meets Sunak on European tour

LONDON (AP) – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in Britain on Monday on his turbulent European tour when Kiev’s staunch ally vowed to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones to change the course of the war.

Zelenskyi landed by helicopter at Checkers, the British leader’s official retreat, and was greeted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. It is Zelenskyy’s second trip to the UK since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

This is the fourth European country that Zelenskyy has visited in the last few days. He is asking for more help as Ukraine prepares a long-awaited spring offensive to retake territory captured by Russia.

The Ukrainian leader paid an unannounced visit to Paris on Sunday evening to meet French President Emmanuel Macron after visiting Germany and Italy, where he met the leaders of those countries Pope Francis.

A message published Monday on Zelenskyy’s official Telegram channel said: “Today – London. The UK is at the forefront of expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air. This collaboration continues today. I will meet my friend Rishi. We will conduct substantive negotiations personally and in delegations.”

The UK has become one of Ukraine’s key military allies, sending short-range missiles and Challenger tanks to Kiev and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil. Last week Great Britain announced It had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles that have a range of more than 250 kilometers (150 miles) — the first known delivery of the weapons Kiev has long requested from its allies.

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Sunak’s office said Britain will confirm on Monday that it will supply Ukraine with 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 crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression that it neither chose nor provoked,” Sunak said. “They need the sustained support of the international community to defend themselves against the barrage of relentless and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.

“We must not let them down.”

Sunak will also urge his allies to provide more support to Ukraine at a meeting of Group of Seven leaders later this week in Japan, Downing Street said.

As Zelenskyy visited European capitals, Russia ramped up drone and missile attacks across Ukraine over the weekend. On Sunday, Russia shelled two communities in the northern border region of Sumy, the region’s military administration said in a statement on its official Telegram channel. It was said that 109 explosions were registered.

Zelenskyy and Macron met for about three hours on Sunday at the French President’s Elysée Palace – an encounter that was kept secret until shortly before the Ukrainian leader’s arrival in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron (right) welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Elysee Palace in Paris May 14, 2023.
French President Emmanuel Macron (right) welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Elysee Palace in Paris May 14, 2023.

Michel Euler via Associated Press

More Ukrainians are also being prepared for combat, with France looking to train about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers in France and nearly 4,000 more in Poland this year as part of a broader European effort, Macron’s office said.

France has supplied Ukraine with a range of weapons, including air defense systems, light tanks, howitzers and other weapons, as well as equipment and fuel.

France had sent a plane to pick up Selenskyj in Germany, where he met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz The previous Sunday he had discussed his country’s planned counter-offensive.

It was his first visit to Berlin since the invasion began and came a day after the German government announced a new military aid package to Ukraine worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammo .

After initially being reluctant to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons, Germany has become one of the largest suppliers of arms to Ukraine, including Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks and the advanced IRIS-T SLM air defense system. Modern Western hardware is believed to be crucial to the success of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive.

In the western German city of Aachen, Zelenskyi also received the prestigious International Charlemagne Prize, awarded to him and the Ukrainian people.

On Saturday. He met Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome.

During the European tour, Zelenskyy said Ukraine would seek liberation of Russian-held territories within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and would not attack Russian territory.

The Washington Post cited previously unreleased documents from a plethora of US intelligence leaks that suggest Zelenskyy has been contemplating seizing territory in Russia that could potentially serve as a bargaining chip for peace talks to end the war Moscow started in February 2022 at odds with Western governments, which have insisted that the weapons they provide cannot be used to attack targets in Russia.

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Asked about the report, Zelenskyy said: “We are not attacking Russian territory, we are liberating our own legitimate territory.”

“We have neither the time nor the strength (to attack Russia),” he said, according to an official interpreter. “And we don’t have any weapons left to do it with either.”

“We are preparing a counterattack on the illegally occupied territories on the basis of our constitutionally established legitimate borders, which are internationally recognized,” Zelenskyy said.

The areas still occupied by Russia include the Crimean peninsula and parts of eastern Ukraine with a predominantly Russian-speaking population.

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