Zelensky visits Britain as UK pledges to train fighter pilots – Reuters

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LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday and will meet King Charles III at Buckingham Palace on only his second trip abroad since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly 100 years ago. a year.

He thanked Britain for its support and predicted victory over Russia with its help.

“We know freedom will win; we know Russia is going to lose,” he said. “We know victory will change the world, and it will be the change the world has long needed,” he said. “The UK is marching with us to the most important victory of our lifetimes.”

Such is the security operation around these trips that Downing Street announced his visit just hours before the plane carrying Zelensky arrived at Stansted Airport in London – a moment broadcast live on the BBC.

Zelensky could also travel to Brussels on Thursday, according to various media. His first international trip was in December, when he traveled to Washington to address a joint meeting of Congress and rally for continued American support.

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Britain sees itself as playing a leading role in Ukraine and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, like his predecessors, is a strong supporter. On Wednesday, Sunak promised additional military support, including the training of Ukrainian fighter pilots. This is still below Zelensky’s demands for real fighter jets.

Boris Johnson, the former British Prime Minister, has argued that the West should be more willing to send sophisticated aircraft to Ukraine. He was not speaking on behalf of the British government.

“Give the Ukrainians the tools to finish the job. Give them the deep-firing artillery systems, give them the tanks, give them the planes, because they have a plan. They know what they have to do,” he said during a recent speech to the Atlantic Council in Washington.

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After the United States, Britain is the largest donor of military aid to Ukraine. According to a recent parliamentary briefing, it has committed $2.8 billion in military assistance so far and pledged to match that in 2023.

The UK is also leading Operation Interflex, an initiative with other allies that brings Ukrainian troops to Britain for training.

“As part of today’s talks, the Prime Minister will offer to strengthen the UK’s training offer for Ukrainian troops, including extending it to fighter pilots to ensure that Ukraine can defend its skies in the future,” Downing Street said in a statement.

Although this is the first time the Ukrainian leader has addressed the British Parliament in person, he addressed lawmakers last year by video and received a standing ovation.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said Charles would hold an audience with Zelensky there in the afternoon.

Zelensky will also meet with Sunak as well as defense and security chiefs in a visit the prime minister called a “testimony to the undying friendship” between the countries.

“Since 2014, the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, enabling them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory,” Sunak said.

Downing Street also said Britain will announce new sanctions on Wednesday that will target “those who helped [Russian President Vladimir] Putin builds his personal wealth and businesses that profit from the Kremlin’s war machine.

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