Zelensky surprise guest of EU summit; to demand combat jets, missiles
Ukraine's President will attend the EU summit in Brussels after his UK and France stops.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to take part in the EU summit in Brussels as a last-minute guest where he is anticipated to push his western allies for more advanced weapons, in particular fighter jets and long-range missiles.
On Wednesday, Zelensky landed in London, the first stop of his previously unannounced trip to Europe and the second overseas trip following the start of the war in Ukraine, where he met with UK's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
During his UK visit, Ukraine's leader met with Britain's monarch Charles III and held a speech at Westminster Hall in an address to the parliament.
Sunak announced after receiving Zelensky that the UK would create new programs intended to expand the horizons for military training for Kiev's troops as new fighter jet pilots and marines.
Following his London stop, the Ukrainian President headed to France's capital Paris where he had a late-night dinner with the French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Read more: UK Defense: No approach towards blocking fighter jet supply to Ukraine
His [Zelensky] participation in the EU summit will be "a signal of European solidarity," said Scholz.
"The sooner Ukraine gets long-range heavy weaponry, the sooner our pilots get planes, the sooner this Russian aggression will end and we can return to peace in Europe," Zelensky said in France.
"There is very little time," he stressed.
Furthermore, Macron pledged that France would help Ukraine win the war against Russia and that he would push for faster delivery of arms to Kiev.
We are "determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights," said Macron.
"Ukraine can count on France, its European partners and its allies to win the war. Russia cannot and must not prevail," he added.
Read more: German industry stock might give Ukraine up to 160 Leopard I tanks
The German Chancellor added that Berlin and its allies had backed Ukraine "financially, with humanitarian aid and with weapons," noting that "we will continue to do so as long as necessary."
After succeeding in pressuring his western allies for advanced battle tanks, arguably the most modern tanks in the world, Zelensky is pushing now for fighter jets and long-range missiles.
By April, Ukraine's Western allies will deliver the first battalion of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius announced during a visit to the Polish capital on Wednesday.
Additionally, Germany will pool funds from Denmark and the Netherlands to repair at least 100 outdated Leopard 1 tanks for Ukraine.
The United Kingdom said it will consider sending the aircraft to Ukraine in the "long term", while the US and NATO are still hesitant to provide combat jets for fear of causing a direct confrontation between the coalition and Russia.
Read more: Germans think their nation has done enough for Ukraine: WP
In his address to the UK parliament, Zelensky said, "I appeal to you and the world... for combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom."
Sunak instructed the Defense Secretary to investigate "what jets we might be able to give but, to be clear, this is a long-term solution rather than a short-term capability."
"Nothing is off the table," for Ukraine, including combat jets, said the UK's Prime Minister while standing next to Ukraine's leader beside a British tank.
"Of course they are part of the conversation," he added without making a public commitment.
Zelensky said fighter jets had been discussed and reiterated his call for longer-range missiles.
On Wednesday, Russia warned of escalation if the United Kingdom delivers warplanes to Ukraine.
"Russia will find a response to any unfriendly steps taken by the British side," the Russian Embassy in London warned.
"London would be liable for the 'bloody harvest' of the following round of escalation as well as any military or political repercussions that would follow for the European continent and the entire world," said the Russian Embassy in the UK.
Macron has been previously criticized for insisting on maintaining contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin and accused of holding back on advanced arms to Ukraine.
However, during his visit to Paris, Zelensky suggested that Macron's position on the war in Ukraine has shifted.
"I believe he has changed," Zelensky told Le Figaro daily before his scheduled meeting with the French president.
"And that he changed for real this time. After all, he (Macron) opened the door to tank deliveries."
Macron and Zelensky will head together on Thursday to Brussels to attend the EU summit of the heads of state and governments.