Rishi Sunak meets Zelensky for first time on surprise Ukraine visit – The Telegraph - 19.11.22

Updated: Nov 20

Prime Minister unveils £50m air defence package as he vows continuing support during trip to Kyiv byJamie Johnson, US Correspondent


Rishi Sunak made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday to meet with Volodymyr Zelensky, as he announced a new £50 million air defence package to help counter Russian attacks.


The Prime Minister arrived in snowy Kyiv saying he was “humbled” to be in the country for his first face-to-face meeting with the Ukrainian president.


A video posted by Downing Street showed the two leaders, Mr Sunak wearing a suit and Mr Zelensky in his usual military outfit, sharing a warm embrace outside the presidential palace before heading inside to meet senior Ukrainian officials and have a one-to-one.


As the pair shook hands, Mr Zelensky gestured to the falling snow and said: “You brought us weather,” to which Mr Sunak replied: “Well there we go. I’ve brought my coat for later.”


Later, as the pair walked into the palace, Mr Sunak appeared to say that he and his wife, Akshata Murty, “came here several years ago”.


Mr Sunak said his meeting was a 'humbling' experience - Credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office


Mr Sunak's arrival was accompanied by the UK announcing a £50 million package of defence aid comprising 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to help Ukraine counter Russia's Iranian-supplied drones, including radars and anti-drone technology.


His visit comes after a week where tensions between the West and Russia ratcheted up, after a missile hit a Polish village close to the Ukrainian border, killing two people, sparking concerns Russia had struck a Nato member state.


The hit was was later suggested to likely be an accident by Ukrainian defence forces, but Russian missile strikes on the country have shown no sign of relenting.


In Kyiv, Mr Sunak laid flowers at a memorial for the war dead and lit a candle at a memorial for victims of the Holodomor famine, before meeting emergency personnel at a fire station.


He said it was "deeply humbling" to be in the country, and he was "proud" of how the UK had backed Ukraine since the beginning of the war.


"I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace," he said.


"While Ukraine's armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air.


"We are today providing new air defence, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.


"It is deeply humbling to be in Kyiv today and to have the opportunity to meet those who are doing so much, and paying so high a price."


Mr Zelensky tweeted his thanks to Mr Sunak: "With friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory. Both of our nations know what it means to stand up for freedom."


The Prime Minister's vocal support follows in the footsteps of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.


Mr Sunak, who has spoken to Mr Zelensky multiple times since entering Downing Street, used his appearance at the G20 this week to join allies and other Western leaders in condemning Vladimir Putin's invasion.


During the visit, Mr Sunak also confirmed £12 million for the World Food Programme's response to Ukraine, as well as £4 million for the International Organisation for Migration, ahead of what is expected to be a long winter for the country.


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/11/19/rishi-sunak-meets-zelensky-first-time-surprise-ukraine-visit/


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Mr Sunak said his meeting was a 'humbling' experience - Credit: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office.




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