Rishi Sunak is making a surprise visit to Ukraine to meet Volodymyr Zelensky, as the UK announced it will provide £2.5bn in military aid to the country over the coming year.
It comes as the Ukrainian president presses allies in the West to provide the country with more support to fight back against Russian forces, amid fears that interest in the war is flagging among allies as the war drags on.
The crisis in the Middle East as Israel continues to bombard Gaza has also turned global attention away from the battle against Vladimir Putin.
The Prime Minister stressed the UK’s continued backing for Kyiv ahead of his meeting with President Zelensky, which comes hours after UK and US forces launched strikes against targets used by Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Sunak said: “For two years, Ukraine has fought with great courage to repel a brutal Russian invasion. They are still fighting, unfaltering in their determination to defend their country and defend the principles of freedom and democracy.
“I am here today with one message: the UK will also not falter. We will stand with Ukraine, in their darkest hours and in the better times to come.”
Sunak made his first visit to Ukraine in November 2022, weeks after entering Number 10.
The UK has been among the most vocal backers of Ukraine, with Zelensky visiting London early last year in a historic trip.
The Prime Minister and Zelensky will use the one-day visit to sign a new UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation, after G7 countries agreed at last year’s Nato summit to sign bilateral security assurances with the country.
Number 10 said that the £2.5bn in funding would cover long-range missiles, air defence, artillery ammunition and maritime security, with the support an increase of £200m on the last two years.
Around £200m will also be spent on a push to procure and produce thousands of military drones, which the Government said was the largest delivery of drones to Ukraine from any nation.
Most are expected to be manufactured in the UK.
Zelensky has said that Ukraine particularly needs air defence systems to fend off Russian aerial barrages. More than 500 drones and missiles were fired between December 29 and January 2, according to officials in Kyiv.
The Ukrainian leader began the year with a visit to several Baltic states in a bid to drum up support.
Sunak said that the UK recognises that Ukrainian “security is our security”.
“Today we are going further – increasing our military aid, delivering thousands of cutting-edge drones, and signing a historic new Security Agreement to provide Ukraine with the assurances it needs for the long term.”
The Prime Minister will meet Ukrainian emergency workers during the visit, with Sunak also expected to announce a further £18m in aid.
Funding and resources will also be provided for English language training in the country, Number 10 said.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country