Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today thanked Rishi Sunak and the people of Britain for their ‘steadfast support’ in Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.
Zelensky said the UK’s support in these ‘difficult times is invaluable’, as he marked a year since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader said the new sanctions against Russia that Britain announced today is ‘evidence of the UK’s steadfast solidarity’ with Ukraine.
The UK remains a prominent supporter of Kyiv, with Sunak announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply tanks to its armed forces.
And today, Britain announced a new package of sanctions, imposing an export ban on every piece of equipment Russia has been found using on the battlefield in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko (second left) with his wife Inna Prystaiko (left) along with UK PM Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murthy an an Ukrainian Army officer (right) observe a minute of silence outside No. 10 Downing Street to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in London on Friday
Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Independent Air Assault Brigade fire a Howitzer D-30 artillery weapon towards Russian troops, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday
Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) said the UK’s support in these ‘difficult times is invaluable’, as he marked a year since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric invasion of Ukraine
Zelensky shared a tweet by Sunak today in which the British Prime Minister said Britain stands with all Ukrainians ‘in remembrance, in solidarity, in unity.’
In response, Zelensky wrote: ‘We thank the Prime Minister and the British people for their steadfast support in the fight against Russian aggression. Your help in these difficult times is invaluable.
‘The new package of sanctions against the Russian Federation announced today is evidence of steadfast solidarity. Let’s put pressure on the Russian Federation together. We will definitely win!’
Sunak today joined Ukraine’s ambassador and some Ukrainian soldiers being trained in the United Kingdom outside Downing Street for a minute’s silence in commemoration of those killed in the war.
Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain is prepared to supply fighter jets to eastern European allies to enable them to release their Soviet-era planes to Ukraine.
Wallace said back-filling allies with the UK’s jets to free up their own would be a quicker way to bolster Kyiv’s defences than providing them with British Typhoons.
Britain are set to train Ukrainian pilots on Nato-standard jets but allies have been reluctant to release the modern warplanes requested by the Ukrainian President.
Mr Wallace told Times Radio: ‘The other quick way that Ukraine can benefit from fighter jets is for those countries in Europe that have Russian Soviet fighter jets – MiG 29s or Su-24s – if they wish to donate we can use our fighter jets to backfill and provide security for them as a result.’
‘They are already configured to fight in a Nato way, where of course Ukraine isn’t,’ he said.
Mr Wallace said the Russian army was suffering ‘huge losses’ on the battlefield for very little territorial gain and will sacrifice a growing number of troops to satisfy Mr Putin’s demands.
‘It will move effectively to a meat-grinder approach where it just keeps sacrificing its own soldiers for the vanity of the Kremlin,’ he told Times Radio.
‘That’s why we see huge losses amongst the Russian army and only gains – where we see gains – in metres not miles.’
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced the internationally co-ordinated new package of sanctions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends memorial service for those killed and injured since beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war on the first anniversary in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 24
Ukrainians attend a tactical training and evacuation of injured people during military training organised by the Ukrainian political organisation ‘Right Sector’, in the Lviv region, western Ukraine, on Friday
Export bans have been extended to include hundreds of goods, including aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components that can be used by the Russian military industrial complex.
The UK also sanctioned senior executives at the Russian state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom, as well as bosses at Russia’s two largest defence companies and four banks.
Mr Cleverly warned Mr Putin will ‘probably threaten nuclear use’ as he fails in Ukraine.
‘We have committed to ensure that Putin fails in his attempt to invade Ukraine and as that realisation of his failure dawns on him, he will use every trick in the book,’ he told Times Radio.
‘He will use cyber, he will use disinformation, he will try and call in any and every favour in the international community that he can.
‘He will threaten escalation and he will probably threaten nuclear use. What we have to say to the Russian people is that there is not and has never been a threat to Russia itself.
‘This is a purely defensive posture. No one else is talking about this kind of escalation and there is no threat to Russia itself.’
Ukrainian troops and their UK military instructors mark one year since the start of the war at Lydd army camp in Kent
Later, Sunak will use a call with G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, to urge allies to ‘move faster’ in arming Zelensky’s resistance against the invasion.
Over the last year, the UK has been among the most vocal supporters of Ukraine’s efforts to push back the Kremlin’s troops, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply tanks to its armed forces.
Mr Sunak said 14 Challenger 2 tanks will be supplied, with the war machines set to arrive in eastern Europe next month.
Ukraine has over the last 12 months benefited from a broad coalition of support led by the US, UK and a host of European states amid international condemnation of Russia’s invasion.
Washington is sending 31 of its fast-moving M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, while Berlin will initially supply at least 14 Leopard 2 tanks and give permission to other NATO countries – including Poland, Norway, Finland and Spain – to deliver their own to Kyiv.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, visiting Kyiv, said a first batch of four German Leopard tanks – among scores promised – were already in Ukraine.
The prime minister said Poland will provide more Leopard tanks soon, as well as a number of upgraded, Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
Meanwhile, Sweden on Friday said it would send around 10 Leopard 2 tanks and anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.
But fears remain that the war could continue for at least another year, even as Ukraine insists that further support and weaponry can help bring the conflict to a conclusion.