Rishi Sunak will urge world leaders to “move quicker” to arm Ukraine’s soldiers as he observes a minute of silence to mark the one-year anniversary Russia’s invasion.
Today’s G7 meeting will be used by the prime minister to ask for longer-range weapons from allies to Ukraine because Kyiv needs to have a “decisive edge” on the battlefield.
Mr Sunak is leading the UK in a minute of silence at 11am to commemorate the anniversary on Downing Street’s doorstep.
Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Britain, and members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces will join him. They will also be joined by representatives of each of the 11 countries that make up Operation Interflex, the British-led troop training program for Ukraine.
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“For Ukraine to win the war, and to accelerate it, they must have a decisive advantage in the battlefield. This is what it takes to change Putin’s mindset,” Mr Sunak will tell G7 leaders via a virtual meeting.
This must be our top priority right now. We need to take a more rapid approach to artillery, armour and air defense, rather than taking an incremental approach.
“The next weeks will be hard for Ukraine, but also for Russia. They have once again gone too far. Now is the right time to support Ukraine’s plan to regroup, rearm and move forward.”
As Mr Sunak and Akshata Murty hang a blue-and-yellow wreath on Number 10, he will also reiterate the UK’s support for countries that can provide jets to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy called for Western countries to send fighter planes to Ukraine. While the UK has promised training for Ukrainian pilots using NATO-standard jets and has yet to send any planes, it has made no announcements.
Boris Johnson , former PM, joined the calls and said to Sky News on Thursday that the UK must “break the ice”, in order to become the first country to provide the aircraft to Ukraine.
However, Mr Sunak and Defence secretary Ben Wallace have yet to make a firm commitment to do so.
Sky News exclusively reported that the Treasury indicated on Thursday there was no new money to support defense, despite acknowledging the need to rearm following the war.
According to current circumstances, the British army would run out ammunition in a matter of days if it was called on to fight. It would also take 10 years to build a modern warfighting unit of around 25,000 to 35,000 troops.
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On the occasion of the anniversary, Mr Sunak stated: “As the continent marks one year since a full scale war broke out, I urge all to reflect on the courage of our Ukrainian friends who have, every hour since then, fought heroically for the country.
“I’m proud that the UK stood shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine during this terrible conflict.
“As I stand today with the brave Ukrainian soldiers at Downing Street, my thoughts will be with all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and peace in Europe.
Today, James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary of Ukraine will inform the UN Security Council about Ukraine’s support for the country “as long it takes”.
He is expected to speak at a special session and say: “One-year into this terrible war let us send this clear signal: Our support for Ukraine isn’t, nor will it ever be, limited in time.”
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Sir Keir Starmer of Labour, who met Mr Zelenskyy recently in Kyiv, stated that the UK’s support is “as firm and untiring today as it was one year ago on that dark day.”
He stated that his party is “in lockstep” with the government in continuing support for Ukraine, “regardless what political differences we may have.”