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‘UK will continue to stand with you until Ukraine has won’: PM Rishi Sunak


As Ukraine celebrated retaking the southern city of Kherson on Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his first trip to Kyiv to promise his country’s support and offered a significant new air defence package to the nation in crisis.

“I am here today to say that the UK will continue to stand with you… until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves,” Sunak said in a press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A new $60 million (£50 million) air defence programme was announced by the British prime minister.

These include “125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to counter lethal Iranian-supplied drones, including dozens of radars and anti-drone electronic warfare capability,” according to a Downing Street statement.

As Britain solidifies its position as a steadfast ally of Ukraine, it follows the announcement of more than 1,000 new anti-air missiles by the British defence secretary earlier this month.

“It is deeply humbling to be with you in your country today. The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak told his host.

As Russia bombards Ukraine’s energy infrastructure nine months after invading its neighbour and starting one of Europe’s bloodiest wars since World War II, Ukraine had asked for more air defence systems.

“In years to come we’ll tell our grandchildren of your story, how proud and sovereign people stood up in the face of an appalling onslaught, how you fought, how you sacrificed, how you prevailed,” said Sunak.

In response, Zelensky praised a “meaningful and useful visit for both our countries,” after discussing with Sunak “the possibilities of protecting European and Ukrainian energy security” and “our capabilities in protecting the Ukrainian sky, as well as defence cooperation in general”.

On Twitter, Zelensky said “with friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory”.

Meanwhile, Kherson residents gathered in large numbers to welcome the first passenger train in eight months as it pulled in, bringing together families that had been split apart by the conflict.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office reported on Saturday that since the start of the war, 437 children had died — the majority of them in the eastern Donetsk region — and another 837 had been injured “as a result of Russia’s full-scale armed aggression.”

Officials said the figures were provisional as they verify the situation where fighting is ongoing.

(With inputs from AFP)

 

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