'We stand united': James Cleverly to urge US to increase Ukraine support

Foreign secretary James Cleverly is heading for talks in Washington DC. Credit: PA

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is holding talks in Washington as he seeks to bolster support for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia’s invasion.

Mr Cleverly will meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday before travelling to Toronto for talks on Wednesday with his Canadian counterpart, Melanie Joly.

He is expected to use his visit to urge the allies to go “further and faster” in their support for the government in Kyiv, arguing that, with the right equipment, the Ukrainians can prevail against Moscow.

His intervention comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced at the weekend that the UK is to become the first nation to supply Ukraine with modern Western tanks – a key demand of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Britain will send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks, to be followed by around 30 AS90s – a move which the Ukrainians hope will unlock similar offers of support from other Nato allies.

Poland has offered to provide a company of German-built Leopard 2 battle tanks but, because they were originally imported from Germany, it would have to be signed off by Berlin before they can be re-exported.

In a statement ahead of his visit, Mr Cleverly said: “The UK, US and Canada always have each other’s backs when it counts, protecting the rules-based order for nearly 80 years.

“Today we stand united against (Vladimir) Putin’s illegal war, and we will continue to use our uniquely strong defence and security ties to ensure that, in the end, the Ukrainian people will win.”

Mr Cleverly is also expected to use his visit to raise the issue of Iran following the execution of dual British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, a former defence minister who was accused of spying for MI6.

In response, the UK temporarily recalled its ambassador to Iran while imposing sanctions on Tehran’s prosecutor general.

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