The West must “move faster” to increase military support for Ukraine, says Rishi Sunak as the world marks the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
- Prime Minister to ask G7 members to supply Ukraine with long-range weapons
- Britain is already in talks about sending such weapons to Zelensky.
Rishi Sunak will urge Western leaders tomorrow to “move faster” in increasing military support for Ukraine as the world celebrates the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
In a rallying cry to the G7, Sunak will call on members to follow Britain’s lead in supplying long-range weapons to help President Volodymyr Zelensky’s brave troops.
He believes the weapons will not only help Ukraine protect critical civilian infrastructure, but also push back Russian forces and recapture territory lost in bloody fighting.
Ahead of a meeting of the Western allies, the Prime Minister will join Ukrainian military personnel in Downing Street at 11am as Britain pays tribute to his nation’s courage in a minute’s silence.
He and his wife will also hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of number 10.
Rishi Sunak will call on G7 members to follow Britain’s lead in supplying long-range weapons to help Ukraine
In comments posted tonight, Sunak said he was proud Britain had stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Ukraine “through this horrible conflict.” President Zelensky promised yesterday that his country would prevail and that ‘the murderer’ Russia will be held accountable.
Boris Johnson also spoke as the anniversary loomed, pushing for a “quick win for Ukraine” this year and repeating his call for the RAF to send Typhoon planes to Ukraine.
Sunak will receive Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and members of the country’s armed forces at Downing Street tomorrow morning before a minute of silence. Then, in a virtual call with the G7 leaders, he will encourage them to join Britain in raising support.
Britain is in talks about sending longer-range weapons, such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles or Storm Shadow air-to-surface missiles, as well as a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, and has offered to support other countries that can provide aircraft.
The prime minister is expected to say: ‘For Ukraine to win this war, and to speed up that day, it must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield.
“That is what it will take to change Putin’s mindset. This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armor, and air defense.
“The next few weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to rearm, regroup and move forward.” Its Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, will address the UN Security Council today and insist that Britain will support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, having provided £2.3bn in military aid during the last year along with £220 million in humanitarian assistance.
Tomorrow morning, Sunak (pictured with Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month) will receive Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and members of the country’s armed forces at Downing Street before a minute’s silence.
It has also issued more than 200,000 visas to people fleeing the war zone. At a meeting in India, Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt and G7 finance ministers pledged to increase financial support for the Ukrainian government to a total of $39bn (£32bn).
However, Johnson continues to demand that the West go further and start delivering fighter jets to Ukraine. President Zelensky made a call for “wings for freedom” in his historic speech to Parliament earlier this month.
In an interview with Sky News, Johnson said today: ‘What the Ukrainians want is F-16s. We don’t have F-16s. We have typhoons. I think there’s a case for the UK to break the ice and give them some typhoons.”
He added that it would be a “historic mistake” for China to arm “gangster” Putin.
Vigils were held across Britain tonight to mark the first anniversary of the invasion, including one in Trafalgar Square, with more to take place tomorrow.