UK trains Ukrainian fighters when Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to the UK on Wednesday as Britain revealed plans to provide Kiev with more weapons and support – including training of its standard jets. NATO.

Zelenskyy, who was greeted by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak upon landing at Stansted airport, will address parliament on his second overseas trip since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of his country. him almost a year ago.

The visit to Britain, one of Kiev’s strongest supporters in the West, comes after the Ukrainian leader’s trip to Washington in December and ahead of his expected attendance. at a summit in Brussels this week.

It comes as the UK becomes the first Western ally to offer to train Ukrainian pilots on standard NATO aircraft.

“I am proud that today we are expanding . . . training from soldiers to marines and fighter pilots, ensures Ukraine has a military capable of defending its interests well into the future,” Sunak said.

Concern is growing in the West that Ukraine has a narrow window to launch an attack. counterattack in springas Russia concentrated its forces, prompting allies to send in heavier equipment such as tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and long-range weapons.

But so far, NATO countries have not accepted Ukraine’s call to use Western aircraft, especially the US F-16, which would allow the country’s air force to protect the skies. better against Russian air attacks.

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, said of Britain’s decision to train pilots: “This is an important milestone in further strengthening Ukraine’s military capabilities in the face of aggression. Russian strategy.

“It sends a strong signal. . . to Ukraine’s other allies, that the time has come to overcome one of the last remaining hurdles – supplying Ukraine with modern fighter jets.”

Ukrainian officials say the F-16 can intercept cruise missiles and strike drones that Russia has used to target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and civilian objects. while demonstrating support for ground forces.

France is said to be considering a request from Kiev to train Ukrainian fighter pilots. But some Western governments, including the United States, have questioned Should fighters be given priority?cite the lengthy training process.

The move by the Sunak government follows a call from former British prime minister Boris Johnson to supply the Ukrainian army with British fighter jets.

Last week, in an interview with TalkTV by Piers Morgan UncensoredSunak declined to rule out the suggestion in the future, but warned that jets are “extremely sophisticated devices” that require “months if not years” of intensive training.

Ukraine’s air force spokesman, Yuriy Ignat, said late last year that about 50 experienced Ukrainian pilots with English skills had been selected and ready to begin training on their jets. The West. Many of them training with American forces in military exercises before the war.

The UK will also increase the terms of its lethal aid to Ukraine.

“President Zelenskyy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fighting, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries,” said Sunak. speak.

Zelenskyy will also meet Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, chief of staff of defense, and Air Force Commander Sir Mike Wigston, chief of staff of the air force, along with other defense and security personnel, as well as King Charles.

Later on Wednesday, the UK’s Commonwealth & Development Office will announce further sanctions against the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the British government, along with its Western allies, has sanctioned more than 1,200 individuals and more than 120 organizations, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Roman Abramovich, the former owners of the Russian Federation. Chelsea Football Club.

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