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Brunei
Friday, December 2, 2022
24.3 C
Brunei
Friday, December 2, 2022
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    UK PM makes surprise trip to Kyiv, boosts defence aid

    KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised 125 anti-aircraft guns and other air-defence technology as he made an unannounced visit on Saturday – his first – to Ukraine’s snow-blanketed capital for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

    The air-defence package, which Britain valued at GBP50 million, includes radar and other technology to counter the Iran-supplied exploding drones. It comes on top of a delivery of more than 1,000 anti-air missiles that Britain announced earlier this month. The United Kingdom (UK) has been one of the staunchest Western backers of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion. Speaking alongside Zelenskyy, Sunak noted that the UK has given GBP2.3 billion in military aid and pledged, “We will do the same again next year.

    “Your homes, your hospitals, your power stations are being destroyed,” Sunak said in announcing the new air-defence package. “You and your people are paying a heavy price in blood.”

    As snowflakes fell, Zelenskyy greeted Sunak at a presidential palace for their talks. He called the two countries “the strongest of allies”. Walking in the snow, they also inspected captured Russian tanks and other destroyed and rusting military hardware used by the invasion forces that are displayed in a Kyiv square.

    “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 Ukrainian leader said on Twitter.

    Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who stepped down in July, won wide praise in Ukraine for his backing. Sunak is keen to reassure Ukraine’s leaders that there will be no change of stance under his leadership, although when he was UK Treasury chief under Johnson he was considered resistant to demands for higher defence spending.

    “The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak said. “In years to come, we will tell our grandchildren of your story.”

    He pledged that Britain “will stand with you until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves and then we will stand with you as you rebuild your great country”.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak observe destroyed Russian military vehicles installed in downtown Kyiv. PHOTO: AP
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