The West must ‘move faster’ to increase military support for Ukraine, says Rishi Sunak as the world marks the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion
- The PM will call on G7 members to supply longer-range weapons to Ukraine
- Britain is already in discussions about sending such weapons to Zelensky
Rishi Sunak will tomorrow urge Western leaders to ‘move faster’ on increasing military support for Ukraine as the world marks the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
He believes the weapons will not only help Ukraine protect critical civilian infrastructure but also push back Russia’s forces and regain territory lost in the bloody fighting.
Ahead of a meeting of the Western allies, the Prime Minister will join Ukrainian military personnel in Downing Street at 11am as Britain pays tribute to their nation’s courage in a minute’s silence.
He and his wife will also hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of No 10.
Rishi Sunak will call on G7 members to follow Britain’s lead in supplying longer-range weapons to aid Ukraine
In remarks published tonight, Mr Sunak said he was proud that Britain had stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Ukraine ‘through this horrific conflict’. President Zelensky yesterday vowed his country would prevail and that Russia ‘the murderer’ will be held to account.
Boris Johnson also spoke out as the anniversary loomed, pushing for a ‘swift Ukrainian victory’ this year and repeating his call for the RAF to send Typhoon jets to Ukraine.
Tomorrow morning, Mr Sunak will host Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and members of the country’s armed forces in Downing Street before the minute’s silence. Then, in a virtual call with G7 leaders, he will encourage them to join Britain in stepping up support.
Britain is in discussions about sending longer-range weapons such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles or Storm Shadow air-to-surface missiles, as well as a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks, and has offered to support other countries that can provide jets.
The PM is expected to say: ‘For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day –they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield.
‘That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset. This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour and air defence.
‘The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are over-reaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup and push forwards.’ His Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will address the UN Security Council today, insisting that Britain will support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’, having provided £2.3billion in military aid over the past year along with £220million in humanitarian assistance.
Tomorrow morning, Mr Sunak (pictured with Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month) will host Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and members of the country’s armed forces in Downing Street before the minute’s silence
It has also given more than 200,000 visas to people fleeing the warzone. At a meeting in India, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and G7 finance ministers committed to increase financial support for the Ukrainian government to a total of $39billion (£32billion).
However, Mr Johnson is continuing to demand that the West goes further still and starts giving fighter jets to Ukraine. President Zelensky made a request for ‘wings for freedom’ in his historic address to Parliament earlier this month.
In an interview with Sky News, Mr Johnson said today: ‘What the Ukrainians want is F-16s. We don’t have F-16s. We do have Typhoons. I think there is an argument for the UK breaking the ice and giving them some Typhoons.’
He added it would be a ‘historic mistake’ for China to arm the ‘gangster’ Putin.
Vigils were held across Britain tonight to mark the first anniversary of the invasion, including one in Trafalgar Square, while more will take place tomorrow.