Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today thanked Rishi Sunak and the British people for their “steadfast support” in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.
Zelensky said the UK’s support in these “tough times is invaluable” as it marked one year since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader said the new sanctions against Russia that Britain announced today are “proof of the UK’s steadfast solidarity” with Ukraine.
The UK remains a prominent supporter of kyiv, with Sunak announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply its armed forces with tanks.
And today Britain announced a new sanctions package, imposing an export ban on every piece of equipment Russia has ever used on the battlefield in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko (second left) with his wife Inna Prystaiko (left) together with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy and a Ukrainian army officer (a right) observe a minute’s silence outside No. 10 Downing Street to mark the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, in London on Friday.
Ukrainian soldiers from the 80th Independent Air Assault Brigade fire a D-30 howitzer towards Russian troops, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Friday.
Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) said UK support in these “tough times is invaluable” as it marked one year since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
Zelensky shared a tweet from Sunak today in which the British Prime Minister said Britain stands with all Ukrainians “in remembrance, in solidarity, in unity.”
In response, Zelensky wrote: “We thank the Prime Minister and the British people for their strong support in the fight against Russian aggression. Your help in these difficult times is invaluable.
‘The new sanctions package against the Russian Federation announced today is proof of unwavering solidarity. Let’s put pressure on the Russian Federation together. We will definitely win!’
Sunak today joined the Ukrainian ambassador and some Ukrainian soldiers undergoing training in the UK outside Downing Street for a minute’s silence commemorating the war dead.
Meanwhile, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said Britain is prepared to supply fighter jets to Eastern European allies to allow them to deliver their Soviet-era planes to Ukraine.
Wallace said that refilling allies with UK planes to free their own would be a quicker way to bolster kyiv’s defenses than supplying them with British typhoons.
Britain is ready to train Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard aircraft, but the allies have been reluctant to field the modern fighter jets requested by the Ukrainian president.
Mr Wallace told Times Radio: “The other quick way Ukraine can benefit from fighter jets is for those countries in Europe that have Soviet Russian fighter jets, MiG 29 or Su-24, if they want to donate, we can use our fighter jets to refill and provide security for them as a result.’
“They are already set up to fight NATO-style, where of course Ukraine is not,” he said.
Wallace said the Russian army was suffering “enormous losses” on the battlefield for very little territorial gain and will sacrifice increasing numbers of troops to meet Putin’s demands.
“He will effectively move to a meat grinder approach where he will continue to sacrifice his own soldiers for the vanity of the Kremlin,” he told Times Radio.
“That is why we see huge losses among the Russian army and only gains, where we see gains – in meters, not in miles.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced the new internationally coordinated sanctions package.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky attends the memorial service for those killed and wounded since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war on the first anniversary in Kiev, Ukraine, February 24.
Ukrainians attend a tactical training and casualty evacuation during the military training organized by the Ukrainian political organization ‘Right Sector’, in the Lviv region of western Ukraine on Friday.
The export bans have been expanded to include hundreds of products, including aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components that may be used by the Russian military-industrial complex.
The UK also sanctioned top executives of Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, as well as the heads of Russia’s two largest defense companies and four banks.
Cleverly warned that Putin “will probably threaten nuclear use” when he fails in Ukraine.
“We have pledged to ensure that Putin fails in his attempt to invade Ukraine, and when he realizes his failure, he will use every trick in the book,” he told Times Radio.
‘He will use cybernetics, he will use disinformation, he will try to call in as many favors from the international community as he can.
‘It will threaten escalation and it will probably threaten nuclear use. What we have to tell the Russian people is that there is and never has been a threat to Russia itself.
This is a purely defensive stance. No one else is talking about this kind of escalation and there is no threat to Russia itself.”
Ukrainian troops and their UK military instructors celebrate one year since the start of the war at Lydd Army Camp in Kent.
Later, Sunak will use a call with G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, to urge allies to “move faster” to arm Zelensky’s resistance against the invasion.
Over the past year, the UK has been among the most vocal supporters of Ukraine’s efforts to push back Kremlin troops, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply tanks to their armed forces.
Sunak said 14 Challenger 2 tanks will be supplied and the war machines will arrive in Eastern Europe next month.
Over the past 12 months, Ukraine has benefited from a broad coalition of support led by the US, the UK and a number of European states amid international condemnation of Russia’s invasion.
Washington is sending 31 of its fast-moving M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, while Berlin will initially supply at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks and give permission to other NATO countries, including Poland, Norway, Finland and Spain, to deliver theirs to Kiev.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, visiting Kiev, said a first batch of four German Leopard tanks, among many promised, was already in Ukraine.
The prime minister said Poland would soon provide more Leopard tanks, as well as a series of upgraded Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
Meanwhile, Sweden said on Friday that it would send around 10 Leopard 2 tanks and anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.
But fears persist that the war could continue for at least another year, even as Ukraine insists that more support and weapons can help bring the conflict to a conclusion.