German head of government Olaf Scholz (left) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visit a military base in Aachen, Germany, May 14, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday he was confident of reaching a deal to get Western fighter jets, after meeting with the British prime minister as part of a European tour seeking further support against Russian aggression. .
Zelensky traveled to the UK after visiting France, Germany and Italy over the weekend.
Dressed in his distinctive military garb, he met Rishi Sunak at Chequers, the country residence of British prime ministers about 40 miles northwest of London.
At the end of the meeting, the Ukrainian president confirmed that they had discussed the creation of a “coalition of fighters” and said they hoped to reach an agreement soon so that their Western allies could deliver much-needed equipment. Needed.
“We want to create an alliance for aircraft and I am very optimistic about it, we talked about it and I think it will happen very soon, they will find out about the decisions that I consider very important Hoon,” he said before television cameras. However, he specified that “a little more” work is still needed to achieve this.
Sunak declared himself ready to play “an important role in this alliance”, assuring it was a complex issue, without giving further details.
Despite their strong support to Ukraine against Russia, NATO countries have so far refused to provide modern fighter jets.
However, Sunak confirmed that the UK would help train Ukraine’s pilots as part of its support.
And he said he would talk to leaders of other countries about the jets at this week’s European Council summit in Iceland and the G7 in Japan.
– Anti-aircraft missiles and drone strikes –
Ahead of the meeting, the British government announced it would send “hundreds” of anti-aircraft defense missiles and long-range attack drones to Ukraine in the coming months.
“This is a pivotal moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a war of aggression that was neither chosen nor instigated,” Sunak said. “We should not let them down,” he added.
The UK already last week became the first Western country to offer the long-range cruise missile, Storm Shadow, to Ukraine.
Designed to travel up to 250 km farther than any other weaponry supplied to Kiev by Western countries so far, they have the ability to reach areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by the Russian military.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that Britain-supplied weapons would have no major impact on the conflict, but would “cause even more destruction.”
Soon after, Russia claimed to have intercepted a storm shadow in the last 24 hours.
“The air defense systems intercepted seven HARM anti-radar missiles, one Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile and 10 HIMARS multiple rocket launchers,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.
On Sunday, France promised to deliver dozens of light tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine. And the German government announced a 2.7 billion euro (about $2.9 billion) military aid package that includes tanks, armored vehicles, surveillance drones and four new Iris-T air defense systems.
Four killed in Russian attack
While Zelensky was visiting Britain, a Russian attack in the east of his country killed four people in a hospital.
The region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilenko, announced that Russian forces fired missiles at the border town of Avdiivka near Donetsk, hitting a hospital and killing four people.
Not long ago, Ukraine claimed a “first success” in its offensive around Bakhmut, a town in the east that has been the scene of fighting for months and is now largely under Russian control.
For the past several days, the army of Ukraine has been claiming that it is moving forward in its defense.
On Sunday, Ukrainian officials claimed to have “captured more than ten enemy positions north and south of the Bakhmut perimeter.” Two days ago, they indicated that they had recovered 2 km in the same area.
For its part, Russia said it is also making progress in the city, which it has been trying to conquer since last summer.
Observers doubt the city’s strategic interest to the Russians, although its conquest would allow the Kremlin to win after months of defeat.