Rishi Sunak visited Ukraine for the first time since becoming prime minister, meeting President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital, Kyiv.

The two world leaders discussed Ukrainemilitary advances and reconstruction plans for the British Prime Minister pledged a £50m package to bolster Ukraine’s air defence.

The set includes 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to counter drones supplied by Iran, including dozens of radars to boost anti-drone electronic warfare capability.

Image:
Photo: Flickr/Number 10

The UK will also increase the training of the Ukrainian armed forces, sending expert army doctors and engineers to the region to offer specialist support.

During his visit, Mr. Sunak laid flowers at a memorial for the war dead, lit a candle at a memorial for victims of the Holodomor famine and met with Ukrainian first responders, including staff fire station emergency.

A Number 10 spokesperson confirmed the Prime Minister’s trip, saying: “The Prime Minister is in Ukraine today on his first visit to Kyiv to meet President Zelensky and confirm the UK’s continued support.”

Mr Sunak tweeted: “Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you every step of the way.”

President Zelenskyy shared a short video on his official Telegram social media feed showing the British Prime Minister getting out of a car and walking with him along a red carpet in the Mariinskyia Palace.

The two leaders appear to make a comment about the cold weather as they shake hands, with small snowflakes falling all around.

Wearing a pin showing the British and Ukrainian flags side-by-side, Mr Sunak is featured in a one-on-one meeting with the Ukrainian president, as well as a larger roundtable-style meeting with chiefs military.

Photo: Flickr/Number 10
Image:
Photo: Flickr/Number 10

A message from the Ukrainian leader accompanying the video read: “Since the early days of the war, Ukraine and the UK have been the strongest allies.

“During today’s meeting, we discussed the most important issues both for our countries and for global security.

“Together we are stronger and we will achieve the desired results.”

Mr Zelenskyy also tweeted his thanks to Mr Sunak, writing: “With friends like you by our side, we are confident of our victory. Both our nations know what it means to stand up for freedom.”

Following his visit, Mr Sunak said in a statement: “I am proud of the way the UK has stood with Ukraine from the start. And I am here today to to say that the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine as it fights to end this barbaric war and deliver a just peace.

“While the Ukrainian Armed Forces successfully repel Russian forces on the ground, civilians are brutally bombarded from the air. Today we provide new air defense, including anti-aircraft guns, radars and anti-drone equipment, and Let’s step up humanitarian aid for the cold and harsh winter ahead.

“It is very humbling to be in Kyiv today and to have the opportunity to meet those who do so much and pay such a high price.”

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Mr Sunak is following in the footsteps of former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, pledging the UK’s continued support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion.

The Prime Minister also used his appearance at the G20 this week to join allies and other Western leaders in condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

The visit comes after a missile hit a Polish village near the Ukrainian border, kill two peopleand initially raising concerns, Russia struck a NATO member state.

Tensions have since been eased by the likely attribution of the hit to the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

Over the past week, Ukrainian forces said Russia rained more than 148 missile strikes on critical infrastructure, leaving around 10 million people without power.

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