President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy will arrive in Britain today, February 8, 2023. This is his first trip to the U.K. since the start of the Russia’s invasion.
The British government has disclosed that Zelenskyy will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, address Parliament and meet with U.K. military chiefs.
The U.K. is one of the biggest military backers of Ukraine and has sent the country more than 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in weapons and equipment.
The visit comes as Sunak announced that Britain will train Ukrainian pilots on “NATO-standard fighter jets.”
Ukraine has urged its allies to send jets, though the U.K. says it’s not practical to provide the Ukrainian military with British warplanes.
More than 10,000 Ukrainian troops have also been trained at bases in the U.K., some on the Challenger 2 tanks that Britain is sending.
“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. 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.”Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of U.K
Zelenskyy addressed the U.K. Parliament remotely in March, 2022, two weeks after the start of the invasion. He iterated World War II leader, Winston Churchill’s famous “never surrender” speech, vowing that Ukrainians “will fight till the end at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.”
Before Sunak took office, Zelenskyy had formed a bond with Boris Johnson, who was one of Ukraine’s most vocal backers while he was U.K. Prime Minister. Sunak took office in October,2022 and has pledged to maintain the U.K.’s support.
It will be Zelenskyy’s second known trip visit abroad since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. He visited the U.S. in December, 2022.
Zelenskyy may be seeking Western pledges of more advanced weapons.
In Brussels, there were increasing expectations that the Ukrainian leader might also make his first visit to European Union institutions since the war began.
Zelenskyy Expected To Address EU Parliament
Zelenskky is expected to address the European Parliament on Thursday, February 9, 2023 before attending a summit of EU leaders.
Leaders from EU will be gathering for a summit in Brussels on Thursday and that would enable Zelenskyy to meet with all major leaders of the bloc in one day.
Zelenskyy has often addressed EU summits only through video calls from Ukraine.
Russian forces over the past day launched major shelling attacks on areas near the front line in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, killing a 74-year-old woman and wounding a 16-year-old girl in the border town of Vovchansk, local Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine disclosed that Russian forces in Ukraine are focusing their efforts on “waging a counteroffensive” in the country’s industrial east, with the aim of taking full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that make up the Donbas.
Russian troops launched assaults near Bakhmut and Vuhledar, two mining towns in the Donetsk region that have been among Moscow’s key targets, Ukrainian officials said.
Seizing Bakhmut could severely disrupt Ukraine’s military supply routes. It would also open a door for Moscow’s forces to drive toward key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.
Ukrainian authorities say the Kremlin’s goal is to complete full control of the Donbas, an expansive industrial area bordering Russia.
That would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a major battlefield success after months of setbacks and help him rally public opinion behind the war.
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