The UK is to send more ambulances to Ukraine as part of a package of “hands-on” support to help the war-torn nation through the winter, the foreign secretary pledged on a visit to Kyiv.
Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.
The UK will send 35 more emergency vehicles, including 24 ambulances and six armoured vehicles, to the country, James Cleverly said during his visit to Kyiv which comes days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Ukraine.
Mr Cleverly said the UK intends to keep its pledge to offer “concrete” assistance, as words alone “won’t keep the lights on” or “defend against Russian missiles” as he met Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
'We are really friends' - President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tells Foreign Secretary James Cleverly that Ukraine is "really thankful" for the continued support of the UK
He also announced a further £3 million for the rebuilding of local infrastructure including schools and shelters, as well as additional funding to support survivors of sexual assault.
Mr Zelenskyy told Mr Cleverly Ukraine "was really thankful" for the UK's continued support.
Thanking Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba for welcoming him to the country, the Cabinet minister tweeted: “Words are not enough. Words won’t keep the lights on this winter. Words won’t defend against Russian missiles.
“The UK isn’t just talking about Ukraine, we’re providing concrete support for the defence of Ukraine.”
Mr Kuleba said he was “grateful” for Mr Cleverly’s “brave visit” and the UK’s “steadfast support” during the “difficult times” at hand.
“Our shared goal is Ukraine’s victory which will restore security and stability in Europe and beyond,” he tweeted.
Mr Cleverly also shared a photo of his meeting with Mr Zelensky, addressing him directly.
“President @ZelenskyyUa, the UK is supporting you with action – not just words,” he wrote.
“I made you that promise today. The UK intends to keep it.”
Mr Cleverly said: “As winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try and break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure. Russia will fail.
“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. I have today announced a package of hands-on support for our Ukrainian friends in their fight, from ambulances to crucial support for survivors of the sexual violence carried out by the Russian military.
“I’ve seen here first-hand how the UK’s efforts are helping brave citizens to resist and rebuild. Our support will continue for as long as it takes for this remarkable country to recover.”
The UK is also committing £5 million to a Ukraine-led initiative, delivered through the UN World Food Programme, to ship grain to countries most at risk of famine, including Yemen and Sudan.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to grain shortages and global food price rises, and prompted fears of famine in some developing countries.
Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “I am pleased the UK government can support President Zelensky’s work to help Ukraine’s grain reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable nations in the world.
“Global food security is in all our interests – and helping Ukraine’s farmers and agricultural sector to continue producing and exporting food in these most difficult of circumstances is vital for that security.”
Mr Sunak’s visit to Kyiv last Saturday 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 equipment.
The prime minister said it was “deeply humbling” to be in the Ukrainian capital and that he was “proud” of how the UK had backed the country since Moscow’s invasion began.
His vocal support for Kyiv sees him follow in the footsteps of his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
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