KYIV: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday used his first visit to Kyiv to pledge support to Ukraine, offering a major new air defence package as the country celebrated retaking the southern city of Kherson.
“I am here today to say that the UK will continue to stand with you until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves,” Sunak said in a press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The British leader announced a new air defence package worth 50 million ($60 million).
This comprises “125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to counter deadly Iranian-supplied drones, including dozens of radars and anti-drone electronic warfare capability,” according to a Downing Street statement.
It follows more than 1,000 new anti-air missiles announced by the British defence secretary earlier this month, as Britain cements its status as a steadfast ally of Ukraine.
“It is deeply humbling to be with you in your country today. The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak told his host.Ukraine had requested more air defence systems as Russia pummels its energy infrastructure nine months after invading its neighbour to spark one of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts since World War II.
“In years to come we’ll tell our grandchildren of your story, how proud and sovereign people stood up in the face of an appalling onslaught, how you fought, how you sacrificed, how you prevailed,” said Sunak.
In response, Zelensky praised a “meaningful and useful visit for both our countries,” after discussing with Sunak “the possibilities of protecting European and Ukrainian energy security” and “our capabilities in protecting the Ukrainian sky, as well as defence cooperation in general”. On Twitter, Zelensky said “with friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory”.
The human cost of the conflict was laid bare, meanwhile, when the Ukraine prosecutor general’s office stated on Saturday that 437 children had been killed — the vast majority in the eastern Donetsk region — and a further 837 injured since the start of the war “as a result of Russia’s full-scale armed aggression.”
Officials said the figures were provisional as they verify the situation where fighting is ongoing.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2022