Rishi Sunak meets President Zelenskyy in Kyiv on first visit to Ukraine as PM
The Prime Minister made a surprise visit to Kyiv, ITV News senior international correspondent John Irvine reports from Ukraine
Rishi Sunak has met Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy as snow falls in war-torn Kyiv, in his first visit to the country since becoming prime minister last month.
The PM said he was “humbled” to be in Ukraine, as the Prime Minister held his first face-to-face meeting with Mr Zelenskyy.
Mr Sunak’s arrival was accompanied by the announcement of a £50 million package of defence aid comprising 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to help Ukraine counter Iranian-supplied drones, including radars and anti-drone technology."Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom,” Mr Sunak tweeted, adding, "We are with you all the way."
A Number 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister is in Ukraine today for his first visit to Kyiv to meet President Zelenskyy and confirm continued UK support."
Following in the footsteps of both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, Mr Sunak has pledged that UK support for Ukraine in the fight against Russia will remain steadfast.
The prime minister, who has spoken to Mr Zelenskyy on more than one occasion since entering Downing Street, used his appearance at the G20 this week to join with allies and other Western leaders to condemn Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
A video of the meeting, posted by Mr Sunak’s Twitter account, shows him shaking hands with the Ukrainian leader in a snowy Kyiv.
“Welcome. How are you?” Mr Zelenskyy asks the Prime Minister.
“Really good to see you,” Mr Sunak says as Mr Zelenskyy gestures at the falling snow.
The pair are shown shaking hands in front of the Union flag and Ukraine’s flag, with the pair also shown holding a one-to-one meeting.
Mr Sunak's visit comes after a missile hit a Polish village close to the Ukrainian border, initially sparking concerns Russia had struck a Nato member state.
Some of the tensions have been eased by the likely attribution of the hit to Ukrainian defence forces.
In Kyiv, Mr Sunak laid flowers at a memorial for the war dead and lit a candle at a memorial for victims of the Holodomor famine, before meeting emergency personnel at a fire station.
He said it was “deeply humbling” to be in Kyiv, and he said he was “proud” of how the UK had backed Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
“I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace,” he said.
“While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air.
“We are today providing new air defence, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.
“It is deeply humbling to be in Kyiv today and to have the opportunity to meet those who are doing so much, and paying so high a price.”
Mr Zelenskyy tweeted his thanks to Rishi Sunak: “With friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory. Both of our nations know what it means to stand up for freedom.”
Mr Sunak’s vocal support sees him follow in the footsteps of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know