Sir Keir Starmer met Volodymyr Zelenskyy today, as he visited Ukraine for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February.
The arrival of the Labour leader in Kyiv is just over a week following the surprise visit to London by Ukrainian President Volodymyrzelenskyy to meet Prime Minister Rishi and King Charles.
Sir Keir stated to reporters that it was “very important” that he be in Ukraine, “making clear that support in the United Kingdom for Ukraine is united”.
He is also believed to have reiterated the Labour Party’s “unwavering Support” for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.
Sir Keir traveled to Bucha, Irpin and other locations to view the evidence of Russian war crimes as part of the visit.
He also met experts in reconstruction, human rights and appropriations.
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Sir Keir stated that he had a constructive meeting with President Zelenskyy and that they were able discuss the support Ukraine needs and the justice it deserves.
“We discussed the need to have justice that covers both the use Russian state assets for reconstruction as well as the need to see war crimes prosecutions.
“I was able tell him that if there is a change in government during a general election here the support for Ukraine will stay the same.
“It’s an important message that I need to be able relay to the president face-to-face, and this afternoon, I was able to do so.
“We talked about a variety of issues. He’s very concerned regarding support through weapons and continuing training for Ukraine. I stressed that Labour Party supports and will maintain the defense, training and technological support that the UK government is currently providing.
“I have said throughout the conflict that there will not be any difference between the parties on this. So we will continue working with the government to determine what additional support we can offer.”
Starmer’s latest attempt to be seen in the role of PM-in-waiting is Ukraine.
Prime Minister’s Questions, last week, just minutes before President Zelenskyy spoke to MPs and peers at Westminster Hall, Sir Keir Sterner stated that it was crucial for Parliament to support Ukraine in its entirety.
However, his visit to Kyiv as well as his face-toface meeting with President in the war-torn capital of the country will undoubtedly be seen as Labour’s latest attempt at being seen by the British public to be a prime minister-inwaiting.
Labour leader, David Cameron, has met with the British Army’s Ukrainian soldiers on a visit in Salisbury Plain last Aug. He also met NATO troops during a trip to Estonia 15 days after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Last Wednesday’s PMQs saw Sir Keir engage in a bipartisan exchange with Rishi Sunak.
After President Zelenskyy’s Westminster Hall speech, Sir Keir, the Commons Speaker, was introduced to him by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, before engaging in a conversation at a reception held in the Speaker’s Apartments.
Sir Keir had been hoping to visit Ukraine since last summer, when Boris Johnson was Prime Minster. Opposition leaders and shadow ministers have never been welcomed by governments.
However, it appears that Mr Sunak has granted his blessing for Sir Keir’s trip. Labour leader and strong support for the prime minister of Ukraine, not to mention his solidarity at the PMQs last Wednesday, will be noted in Downing Street, and Kyiv.
Sir Keir isn’t the first national opposition leader visiting Kyiv. The head of Germany’s largest opposition party, Christian Democratic Union, visited Kyiv last May to be received by President Zelenskyy.
In November, Mr Sunak met with the president in Kyiv and pledged to match Mr Johnson’s support for Ukraine. The president was also in the UK last week and said that he would consider all options when he responds to Mr Sunak’s plea for fighter jets.
During Mr Zelenskyy’s visit to London the UK government announced that it will train pilots to operate NATO-standard fighter planes and marines. It also plans to increase the number of Ukrainian soldiers being trained this year from 10,000 to 20,000.
According to reports, Sir Keir approached the Ukrainian president in the summer about the possibility of an opposition leader visit.
As the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches, the Labour leader is making the trip to Ukraine in order to improve his relations with the Ukrainian government.
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Sir Keir visited previously the Polish border and Estonian troops, where he confirmed Labour’s “unshakeable” commitment to NATO.
On his first visit to Ukraine since taking office, the prime minister paid a surprise visit in November to Kyiv.
Mr Sunak promised that the UK would continue to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
President Zelenskyy expressed gratitude for the “meaningful, useful visit” to both of his countries.