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Zelenskyy arrives in UK for first visit since Russia’s invasion

President Zelenskyy will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and address parliament.

Zelenskyy arrives in UK for first visit since Russia’s invasion
08.02.2023 14:36

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has arrived in London, to meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address parliament at Westminster.

He will also have an audience with King Charles III in the afternoon, according to Buckingham Palace. 

This is only Zelenskyy’s second foreign visit since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, at a time when Kyiv is urging the West to deliver more weapons to help it drive Russian forces out.

The UK has pledged to expand the training of Ukrainian troops to include fighter jet pilots and marines, and said the training would ensure Ukrainian pilots were able to fly “sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future”.

Western countries have scaled up their pledges of military support for Ukraine since the start of the new year, but have so far refused to deliver the fighter jets Kyiv has asked for.

“President Zelenskyy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries,” Sunak said in a statement.

Zelenskyy Arrives In Uk For First Visit Since Russia'S Invasion
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak observe destroyed Russian military vehicles installed in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday

Zelenskyy also expected to visit Brussels

The Ukrainian president is also expected to visit Brussels on Thursday as EU leaders gather for a summit. 

A senior EU official told Euronews that Zelenskyy’s trip to the Belgian capital would likely start with an address to an extraordinary plenary session of the European Parliament.

He could then join EU leaders convening for a special summit to discuss migration, the bloc’s response to the US Inflation reduction Act and support for Ukraine, including through a tenth round of sanctions against Russia. 

Zelenskyy has joined these summits virtually multiple times since the war started to update leaders on the situation on the ground, but hasn’t so far attended in person. 

It would come a week after EU Commissioners headed to Kyiv for meetings with the Ukrainian government followed on Friday by an EU-Ukraine summit attended by Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

They said then that “there is an open invitation to President Zelenskyy to visit Brussels” to which the Ukrainian leader replied: “I really want to travel but there’s a very significant risk because of Russia’s attempt to have a revenge.”

A trip to London and Brussels would be only Zelenskyy’s second known trip outside the country since the Russian invasion began on 24 February last year. 

He visited Washington in late December to deliver a speech at Congress and hold a meeting with US President Joe Biden.


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