President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (Volodymyr is the Ukrainian spelling of the Russian name Vladimir that is usually shortened to Vova in colloquial language — ed.) paid an unexpected visit to London, where he predictably asked for more weapons in the first place.
On February 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in London. This became his second trip abroad since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. In December of 2022, Zelensky visited Washington, where he held talks with President Joe Biden and spoke in Congress. He also stopped in Poland on the way back.
In London, Zelensky had a meeting with King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He also spoke before the Parliament at Westminster and paid a visit to a training camp where Ukrainian military personnel are trained.
Afterwards, Zelensky intends to fly to Paris. According to RND, the Ukrainian president was going to hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Zelensky's visits abroad are not announced for security reasons.
A few hours before Zelensky's arrival in London, the British government announced an expansion of the Ukrainian military training programme from 10,000 in 2022 to 20,000 in 2023. The programme will include training for fighter pilots and Marines. The new training programme will enable Ukrainian pilots to fly modern NATO-standard fighter aircraft in the future.
A week earlier, Ukrainian tank crews arrived in Britain to learn how to handle Challenger 2 tanks. The Sunak government announced the delivery of 12 tanks. The UK also announced to supply long-range weapons to Kyiv.
In addition, Great Britain introduced a new package of sanctions against Russia that affected six defence enterprises, one legal entity and eight individuals, including Boris Titov, Putin's aide for the rights of entrepreneurs.
During his speech at Westminster Hall, the seat of the British Parliament, Zelensky delivered an emotional speech to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Zelensky urged London to continue the sanctions policy against Russia and specifically mentioned the importance of British arms supplies, including long-range weapons and tanks.
"I believe in our next coalition, the coalition of the planes. And I appeal to you and the world with simple and yet most important words: Combat aircraft for Ukraine. Wings for freedom,” he said.
Zelensky urged London to continue imposing sanctions on Russia and specifically mentioned the importance of British arms transfers, including long-range weapons and tanks.
Boris Johnson, as Prime Minister of Great Britain, became the first G7 leader who visited Kyiv after the start of the Russian special operation. Johnson put the UK at the forefront of pro-Ukraine Western countries and regularly campaigned not only for more sanctions against Russia but also for more arms supplies to Kyiv.
When Sunak took over, Kyiv feared that the military aid to Ukraine would be cut, but the new prime minister continued Johnson's policy. In November 2022, he traveled to Kyiv and assured Zelensky of continued support.
According to the House of Commons, the United Kingdom has become the second largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States. The UK became the first country that supplied weapons to Kyiv after the outbreak of hostilities. In 2022, the volume of military assistance to Kyiv amounted to £2.3 billion. The British government promised to maintain this level in 2023.
Over the year, London provided Kyiv with air defence systems (including 1,000 anti-aircraft missile systems, thousands of missiles), military equipment, anti-mine weapons, radars, multiple launch rocket systems, long-range artillery, 200 armoured vehicles, naval missiles and other weapons. Tanks are expected to be supplied in the coming months.
London considers an opportunity to ship fighter jets to Kyiv, but not in the near future. The UK has enough aircraft, but London will not give them away to the detriment of its own security.
The UK will not send fighter jets to Ukraine if it jeopardises the security of the kingdom, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, The Telegraph reports.
London will never do anything that would pose a threat to Great Britain's security, the official sad adding that the UK had a sufficient number of Typhoon and F-35 fighters.
The UK, together with partners, will decide how to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment according to NATO standards.
It was also reported that one of the members of the UK Cabinet of Ministers reacted emotionally to Zelensky's plea to supply fighter jets to Kyiv, inews newspaper said.
"We haven't got any f***ing jets to give," an unnamed politician told the publication.
In addition, the shipment of military equipment to Kyiv will hit the UK budget hard.
The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.