UK promises Zelensky long-range drones as UK tops European backers
The UK announces its intent to arm Ukraine with long-range drones after Zelensky's visit which is part of a broader European tour to secure weapons for an upcoming Ukrainian counter-offensive.
The UK has promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy long-range attack drones, as Zelensky goes on a European tour to secure weapons for an upcoming counteroffensive against Russia.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received Zelensky in his Chequers country residence as the two discuss the possibility of sending fighter jets to Kiev.
The UK has also promised that it would train Ukrainian pilots this summer and would aid Kiev "hand in hand" in "efforts to work with other countries on providing F-16 jets" to Zelensky's government.
"We want to create this jets coalition and I am very positive with it," said the Ukrainian President who arrived in the UK after visiting Rome. Berlin, and Paris.
He added, "I see that in the closest time, you will hear some, I think, very important decisions, but we have to work a little bit more on it."
Furthermore, Sunak stated that Britain will deliver hundreds of air defense missiles and unmanned aerial systems, including long-range attack drones that boast a range of more than 200 Km in the upcoming months.
Although Britain pledged to train Ukrainian pilots and aid the country in its quest to secure F-16, Sunak said that the country itself will not be sending the jets as the Royal Armed Forces do not house F-16s in their arsenal.
In response, the Kremlin stated that the UKs actions are "extremely negative" as Britain and other Western countries seek to rejuvenate Ukrainian forces, extending its war with Russia, rather than pushing for peace talks between the two sides which would put an end to the conflict that has had detrimental effects on Europe and the world economy in general.
The West makes funds available
When asked about the long-awaited counteroffensive, Zelensky said, "We really need some more time, not too much. We will be ready in some time," adding that he "can't share" further details.
Zelensky also visited French President Emmanuel Macron as the two announced that France intended to train Ukrainian battalions and equip them with AMX-10RC armored fighting vehicles.
In a statement released by the Elysee Palace, on Monday, Macron said that "France is focusing its efforts on supporting Ukraine's air defense capabilities," which have been marked among the ammunition which the Ukrainian army is critically low on.
The two presidents, according to the statement, concurred that there is a need to mount collective pressure against Russia through more sanctions while attempting to contain restriction circumvention through certain countries.
A report by the UnHerd which examined the leaked Pentagon documents showed that the Ukrainian army is experiencing shortages of anti-air defense ammunition, particularly of Soviet-era S-300 and Buk systems which make up around 89% of Ukrainian air defenses against Russian targets.
The ammunition for these surface-to-air missile systems is produced mainly in Russia, which of course Kiev cannot access. What is even more troublesome is that NATO-supplied NASAMS and IRIS-T batteries are also critically low on supplies.
After his trip to Germany, Der Spiegel reported on Saturday that the German government decided to equip Ukraine with more weaponry worth 2.7 billion euros (almost $3 billion), which will be Berlin's greatest military support package to Kiev.
Moreover, Berlin intends to supply Ukraine with 20 Marder infantry combat vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tanks, up to 200 reconnaissance drones, Gepard anti-aircraft vehicles, extra IRIS-T anti-aircraft missiles, artillery rounds, and transporters.
Der Spiegel described this shipment as Germany's largest armaments supply to Ukraine since the commencement of the war in February 2022.
UK tops European aid to Ukraine
Total UK-military aid to Kiev has surpassed £2.3 billion since the start of the Ukrainian Crisis, which makes Britain the second largest supporter of Zelensky's regime after the US.
London has announced that it intends to acquire long-range missiles to be sent to Kiev through a UK-led 'International Fund for Ukraine (IFU)', a document published on the publicly available government website reads.
IFU is chaired by the UK Ministry of Defense and includes a panel comprised of the UK, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. So far, it has obtained over £520 million in aid to Ukraine, after Iceland and Lithuania also contributed to the fund.
The bidding for the long-range missiles ends on May 4 and lists missiles or rockets with a range of 100km to 300km that could be launched from land, sea, or air, with an explosive payload of 20kg to 490kg as "essential requirements".
Britain later secured Storm Shadow missiles which marked the first set of missiles delivered to Ukraine that can break into Russian territory.
Russia has made it blatantly clear that such weapon deliveries will only expand the conflict, as Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said in an address to the Federal Assembly, "One circumstance should be clear to everyone: the more long-range Western systems will be delivered to Ukraine, the further we will be forced to move the threat away from our borders."