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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Zelenskyy visits UK for first time since Russia’s invasion

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DUBLIN (AP): As Kyiv prepares for an anticipated Russian offensive and formulates its own strategies to retake territory held by Moscow’s forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ventured outside of his country on a rare occasion on Wednesday. He dared to travel to Britain to seek out more cutting-edge weapons.

At London Stansted airport, located north of the British capital, Zelenskyy came on a Royal Air Force aircraft. On the tarmac, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak embraced the president of Ukraine and tweeted a picture of it.

“Among the first to help Ukraine was the United Kingdom. I’m in London right now to express my gratitude to the British people for their support, Zelenskyy wrote on Instagram.

A large group of automobiles entered the airport and drove directly to Downing Street in the heart of London. The iconic black door that leads into the U.K. prime minister’s house was the backdrop for a quick photo op by both leaders.

As the head of Ukraine entered, employees at 10 Downing Street could be heard cheering.

Zelenskyy hailed Britain for its “huge support from the first days of full-scale invasion” at the beginning of the leaders’ meeting.

Later, Zelenskyy will address the legislature. He’s only been verified to have travelled outside Ukraine twice during the war, and this is his first trip to the U.K. since Russia’s incursion started almost a year ago.

During his tour, Zelenskyy will also meet with the leaders of the British military and King Charles III.

One of the greatest military supporters of Ukraine is the United Kingdom, which has provided the nation more than 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) worth of arms and equipment.

As Sunak revealed, Britain will train Ukrainian pilots on “NATO-standard fighter jets” during the tour. Although the U.K. claims it is impractical to give the Ukrainian military British warplanes, Ukraine has requested its friends to deploy jets.

Additionally, more than 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have received training in facilities in the UK, some of them on British-sent Challenger 2 tanks.

To ensure that Ukraine has a force that can protect its interests in the future, Sunak stated, “I am glad that today we will expand that training beyond troops to marines and fighter jet pilots.” Additionally, it emphasises our long-term commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine for many years to come rather than merely short-term commitment to deliver military hardware.

In conjunction with the visit, the U.K. government unveiled a fresh round of penalties against six organisations it claimed provided military supplies to Russia.

One of those sanctioned was CST, a producer of Russian drones and parts for helicopters used against Ukraine. Five people connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opulent properties, including Boris Titov and Aerostart owner Viktor Myachin, were also targeted.

Two weeks after the invasion began in March, Zelenskyy gave a remote speech to the British Parliament. He vowed that Ukrainians “would fight till the end at sea, in the air,” echoing the legendary “never surrender” speech of World War II leader Winston Churchill. No matter what, we will keep fighting for our land.

Boris Johnson, who was one of Ukraine’s most vociferous supporters while he was the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and Zelenskyy had grown close before Sunak assumed government. Sunak, who became office in October, has promised to keep the U.K. on board.

Zelenskyy will be travelling abroad for the second time since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In December, he paid a visit here.

Before prospective spring offensives by both Russia and Ukraine, Zelenskyy might be looking for Western guarantees of more advanced weapons.

The chance of the Ukrainian president making his first trip to EU institutions since the start of the war was growing in Brussels.

On Thursday, a summit of the 27-nation bloc’s leaders will be held in Brussels. Zelenskyy would then be able to meet with all of the bloc’s important leaders in a single day. Zelenskyy frequently spoke at EU summits from Ukraine only via video calls.

A special plenary meeting of the EU legislature has been scheduled for Thursday in Brussels in the hopes that Zelenskyy will attend after his visit to the United Kingdom.

The visit to London took place as Russian forces continued their artillery bombardments in eastern Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials on Wednesday. Kyiv authorities believe this is part of a fresh offensive by the Kremlin’s forces ahead of the anniversary of the invasion.

According to local governor Oleh Syniehubov, Russian forces have recently carried out significant shelling attacks on areas close to the front line in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, killing a 74-year-old woman and injuring a 16-year-old girl in the border town of Vovchansk.

According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Russian forces in Ukraine are concentrating their efforts on “waging a counteroffensive” in the nation’s industrial east in an effort to fully dominate the Donetsk and Luhansk areas that make up the Donbas.

According to Ukrainian sources, Russian troops initiated assaults close to the mining towns of Bakhmut and Vuhledar in the Donetsk region, which had been among Moscow’s primary targets.

The military supply lines to Ukraine may be seriously disrupted if Bakhmut were taken. Additionally, it would allow Moscow’s forces to advance on important Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk.

According to Ukrainian authorities, the huge industrial region of the Donbas, which borders Russia, is what the Kremlin wants to fully control. After months of failures, that would offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a significant battlefield victory and aid him in gaining support for the war from the populace.

According to military analysts, the conflict has mostly remained quiet in recent months following a Ukrainian counteroffensive that began last summer and reclaimed significant territory from Russia.

Moscow, however, thinks Ukraine is getting ready for its own offensive on the battlefield.

As Kyiv gathers forces for a counterattack, the situation in some areas is “extremely challenging,” according to the leader of the occupied Luhansk region who was installed by Russia on Wednesday.

According to Leonid Pasechnik, the circumstances in the regions close to a crucial Russian supply line are “extremely challenging.” Unfortunately, the enemy is building up enough reserves and soldiers there to launch a counterattack and retake the lost territory, he said.

The claims made by the two parties could not be independently verified.

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