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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has arrived in the United Kingdom for talks with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his second known trip abroad since Russia's unprovoked invasion of his country one year ago.
“We will continue to support Ukraine to ensure a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year,” Sunak told parliament.
Sunak’s office said Zelenskiy will visit Ukrainian troops training in Britain on February 8 and address the British Parliament. Additionally, Buckingham Palace said Zelenskiy would meet with King Charles.
Sunak was expected to announce expanded training for the Ukrainian military, including training for fighter jet pilots and marines. The training for pilots would ensure they are able to fly NATO-standard fighters in the future, the statement said.
For months, Kyiv has been urging the West to increase its military support, including the possibility of providing fighter jets.
The United States, Britain, Germany, and other Western allies recently relented and approved sending hundreds of battle tanks, amored vehicles, and other heavy weaponry to Ukraine amid expectations that Russia is gearing up for a new major offensive, possibly as early as this month.
“President Zelenskiy’s visit to the U.K. is a testament to his country’s courage, determination, and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries,” Sunak was quoted as saying.
Britain also announced additional sanctions targeting individuals and companies that “are profiting from the Kremlin’s war machine.” The sanctions targeted Russian drone manufacturer CST; RT-Komplekt, a Russian producer of helicopter parts; and software developer Topaz.
“These new sanctions accelerate the economic pressure on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, undermining his war machine to help Ukraine prevail,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
Oil executive Nikolai Yegorov and Sergei Rudnov, owner of the pro-Kremlin Regnum news agency, were also targeted.
In all, over 1,300 individuals and entities have been sanctioned by Britain over the invasion of Ukraine.
Zelenskiy's visit comes shortly after U.S. President Joe Biden, in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, pledged U.S. support for Ukraine’s war against invading Russia for “as long as it takes.”
In a post on Twitter, Zelenskiy thanked Biden for his “powerful words of support.”
“Our values are the same, our common goal is victory,” Zelenskiy wrote.
Zelenskiy’s visit to Britain will be his first since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. He visited the United States and addressed Congress in December.
On February 7, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark pledged to provide more than 100 Leopard 1 battle tanks. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said 20 to 25 of the tanks would arrive by summer, about 80 by the end of the year, and at least 100 more in 2024. The three countries also promised to provide necessary training and support for the tanks.
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Ukrainian lawmaker Roman Kostenko, head of the parliament’s National Security Committee, said Russia was planning a new offensive in the eastern Donbas region and possibly in another “diversionary” area.
“The enemy is preparing an offensive,” Kostenko said. “Whether he will be able to attack or not remains to be seen.”
Russian forces carried out air strikes in the city of Kharkiv during the night, the head of the regional administration, Oleh Synyehubov, said. The strikes targeted an industrial area of the city and ignited a large fire. No casualties were reported.
Russian military officials said the strike targeted a “workshop” for upgrading drones.
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