• Election 2024
  • Entertainment
  • Newsletters
  • Photography
  • Personal Finance
  • AP Investigations
  • AP Buyline Personal Finance
  • AP Buyline Shopping
  • Press Releases
  • Israel-Hamas War
  • Russia-Ukraine War
  • Global elections
  • Asia Pacific
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Election Results
  • Delegate Tracker
  • AP & Elections
  • Auto Racing
  • 2024 Paris Olympic Games
  • Movie reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Personal finance
  • Financial Markets
  • Business Highlights
  • Financial wellness
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Social Media

UK pledges attack drones, more missiles as Ukraine’s Zelenskyy meets prime minister on European tour

Zelenskyy meets Sunak during UK visit

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, receives Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Chequers, the prime minister's official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, receives Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

  • Copy Link copied

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, look out towards trees planted by Winston Churchill as they walk in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, speaks during a press conference with Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy listens during a press conference with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, left, walks with Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after greeting him on his arrival at Chequers, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, walk in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, leaves following his meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, shakes hands with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after his arrival at Chequers, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy was in Britain Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, walk in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, Monday, May 15, 2023. Zelenskyy set off across Europe with a long shopping list. Ukraine’s president will head home with much of what he wanted – though not the Western fighter jets he seeks to defend against Russian air attacks. (Carl Court/Pool via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pressed the British government at the end of a whirlwind European tour Monday to join a “fighter jet coalition” that would help strengthen his country’s aerial capabilities, but instead secured a commitment for attack drones and hundreds more missiles.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greeted Zelenskyy with a handshake and hug after the president’s helicopter landed at Chequers, the British leader’s official country retreat. It was Zelenskyy’s second trip to the U.K. since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, but the fifth European country he visited in three days..

He is seeking more military aid as Ukraine prepares a long-anticipated spring offensive to retake Russian-occupied territory. The Ukrainian leader also visited Italy, the Vatican , Germany and France .

Russia reacted to the U.K.'s new pledge “extremely negatively,” but also doubts the missiles and drones would drastically change the course of the war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.

“Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Peskov said. “We repeat once again: It cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation (in Ukraine) is unfolding. But, definitely, it leads to further destruction. ... It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated.”

FILE - The Storm Shadow cruise missile is on display during the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, on June 19, 2023. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for Western countries to let Ukraine strike military bases inside Russia with the sophisticated long-range weapons they are providing to Kyiv. It is the most recent sign of a potentially significant policy shift that could help change the complexion of the war. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, File)

Zelenskyy said one of the missions of his European travels that started Saturday was to build a “fighter jet coalition” to provide Ukraine with vital military power in the air. He said more work was needed on that front.

While the U.K. will not provide the planes, the prime minister said the country would join the coalition and begin a previously announced training program for Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as this summer.

The U.K., one of Ukraine’s major military allies, has provided short-range missiles, Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil. Last week, the government announced it had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles , which have a range of more than 250 kilometers (150 miles). The British missiles were the first known shipment of longer-range weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.

Sunak’s office said it was giving Ukraine hundreds more air defense missiles, as well as “long-range attack drones” with a reach of more than 200 kilometers (120 miles).

“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke,” Sunak said. “They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.

“We must not let them down,” the prime minister added.

Sunak plans to push allies at a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Japan later this week to deliver more support to Ukraine, Downing Street said.

As Zelenskyy visited European capitals, Russia stepped up attacks across Ukraine with drones and missiles. Russia shelled two communities Sunday in the northern border province of Sumy, regional officials said on Telegram. They said 109 explosions were recorded.

Zelenskyy’s office said Monday that Russian attacks had killed nine civilians and injured 19 in the past day. Six of the deaths were in southern Ukraine’s Kherson province. Two civilians were killed in Chuhuiv in Kharkiv province, and one in Prymorsk, on the Azov Sea coast about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Russian-occupied Berdyansk.

The presidential office also reported that Marhanets, which lies across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was shelled.

Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported that an acting regional interior minister appointed by Moscow, Igor Kornet, was injured in an explosion at a barbershop in the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk. The leader of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, a separatist-held region of Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed, was quoted as saying a bomb caused the explosion.

Assassination attempts and sabotage attacks have increased in Russian-occupied territory as well as Russia proper. Russian authorities often blame Ukrainian forces, but Kyiv rarely acknowledges such attacks.

Zelenskyy traveled to Britain from Paris, where he met Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron and secured a pledge of light tanks, armored vehicles and air defense systems.

About 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers would receive training in France this year and nearly 4,000 others in Poland, Macron’s office said.

Speaking Monday on French television network TF1, Macron said training on French fighter jets such as the Mirage 2000 “can start now” but rejected the idea of France delivering warplanes to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy also met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday. It was his first visit to Berlin since the start of the invasion and came a day after the German government announced military aid for Ukraine worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion).

Modern Western hardware is considered crucial if Ukraine is to succeed in its planned counteroffensive. During his European trip, Zelenskyy said Ukraine would aim to liberate Russian-occupied areas within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and would not attack Russian territory.

Among areas Russia still occupies are the Crimean Peninsula and parts of eastern Ukraine with mainly Russian-speaking populations.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

JILL LAWLESS

Cookies on GOV.UK

We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use GOV.UK, remember your settings and improve government services.

We also use cookies set by other sites to help us deliver content from their services.

You have accepted additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

You have rejected additional cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time.

zelenskyy visit uk

  • International

PM meeting with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine: 8 February 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine today.

zelenskyy visit uk

The Prime Minister hosted President Zelenskyy for a bilateral meeting during his visit to the UK today.

He paid tribute to President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people’s courage and sacrifice. The Prime Minister thanked the President for his visit and powerful address to Parliament.

President Zelenskyy thanked the Prime Minister for his and the UK’s enduring support, including today’s announcement that the UK will start training to put Ukraine on the path to NATO-standard air combat capability, and that the UK will provide long-range weapons.

The leaders discussed the need to accelerate Ukraine’s counter-offensive, backed by support from the UK and other allies. That means providing the kind of advanced capabilities that the UK has announced today, and delivering the same level of equipment that was previously given in months in a matter of weeks.

They agreed that Ukraine’s counter-offensive against the Russian invasion can and will prevail, heralding in a more secure future for Ukraine.

Share this page

The following links open in a new tab

  • Share on Facebook (opens in new tab)
  • Share on Twitter (opens in new tab)

Is this page useful?

  • Yes this page is useful
  • No this page is not useful

Help us improve GOV.UK

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.

To help us improve GOV.UK, we’d like to know more about your visit today. Please fill in this survey (opens in a new tab) .

Zelenskyy addresses Parliament in London as UK prepares to increase 'lethal aid,' military training

The visit is Zelenkyy’s second known international trip during the invasion.

LONDON -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Parliament in London on Wednesday, as the United Kingdom announced plans to increase its deliveries of "lethal aid."

"I have come here to stand before you on behalf of the brave," Zelenskyy said after receiving a standing ovation from members of both Houses of Parliament.

He thanked Britain for training troops "who will be then deployed to the front line -- front line -- skilled, eager and equipped to win."

PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, inside Downing Street in London, Feb. 8, 2023.

The visit was Zelenkyy's second known international trip since the Russian invasion began almost a year ago. The trip underscored the United Kingdom's "unbreakable friendship" with Ukraine, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a statement.

MORE: Russia-Ukraine live updates

Downing Street announced the surprise visit on Wednesday morning, saying it comes as the United Kingdom expands it training for Ukrainian armed forces. Zelenskyy also met with King Charles at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, after saying he wanted to thank him for his support.

"The King was an Air Force pilot, and In Ukraine every Air Force pilot is a king," Zelenskyy told Parliament members.

PHOTO: King Charles III holds an audience with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, at Buckingham Palace in London, Feb. 8, 2023.

Zelenskyy and Sunak were expected to discuss what the United Kingdom's described as its "two-pronged" approach to aiding Ukraine, which included a "surge" in the supply of military equipment and long-term support with training for troops.

"As part of today's talks, the Prime Minister will offer to bolster the UK's training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future" U.K. officials said in a statement .

PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses parliamentarians in Westminster Hall, London, during his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 8, 2023.

About 10,000 Ukrainian troops have been trained in the United Kingdom in the last six months, officials said. More than 20,000 additional troops are expected to be trained this year.

Trending Reader Picks

zelenskyy visit uk

Father and son drown as dad tries to rescue him

  • May 28, 10:41 AM

zelenskyy visit uk

Severe storms lead to at least 20 deaths

  • May 27, 4:24 PM

zelenskyy visit uk

Johnson disappointed with chaotic House meeting

  • May 17, 3:34 PM

British officials said they expected the program to continue scaling throughout the year. Zelenskyy on Wednesday planned to meet with U.K. defense officials to discuss the training.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, left, holds the helmet of one of the most successful Ukrainian pilots which was presented to him by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Feb. 8, 2023.

"I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future," Sunak said in a statement ahead of the visit.

British officials said they planned on Wednesday to also announce further sanctions in response to Russia's invasion. The sanctions will target people who've helped Russian President Vladimir Putin build personal wealth, along with "companies who are profiting from the Kremlin's war machine," officials said.

Zelesnkyy also laid out a proposal under which any country that acts as an aggressor or terrorist state will eventually be held financially responsible for its crimes.

PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, inside Downing Street in London, Feb. 8, 2023.

He called an eventual victory for Ukraine and its allies the "most important victory of our lifetime," which would amount to a warning for Russia and any other countries considering attacking a sovereign neighbor.

"Any aggressor is going to lose," he said.

ABC News' Joe Simonetti, Guy Davies and Zoe Magee contributed to this report.

Related Topics

zelenskyy visit uk

'General Hospital' actor shot to death

  • May 27, 8:03 PM

zelenskyy visit uk

NTSB investigating deadly Ohio explosion

  • 28 minutes ago

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events

UK Edition Change

  • UK Politics
  • News Videos
  • Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Rugby Union
  • Sport Videos
  • John Rentoul
  • Mary Dejevsky
  • Andrew Grice
  • Sean O’Grady
  • Photography
  • Theatre & Dance
  • Culture Videos
  • Fitness & Wellbeing
  • Food & Drink
  • Health & Families
  • Royal Family
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Car Insurance Deals
  • Lifestyle Videos
  • UK Hotel Reviews
  • News & Advice
  • Simon Calder
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • South America
  • C. America & Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • Politics Explained
  • News Analysis
  • Today’s Edition
  • Home & Garden
  • Broadband deals
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Travel & Outdoors
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Sustainable Living
  • Climate Videos
  • Solar Panels
  • Behind The Headlines
  • On The Ground
  • Decomplicated
  • You Ask The Questions
  • Binge Watch
  • Travel Smart
  • Watch on your TV
  • Crosswords & Puzzles
  • Most Commented
  • Newsletters
  • Ask Me Anything
  • Virtual Events
  • Betting Sites
  • Online Casinos
  • Wine Offers

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in Please refresh your browser to be logged in

Sunak embraces Zelensky on Ukraine leader’s surprise UK trip - as PM pledges more missiles and drones

Ukrainian president says uk has been ‘a leader’ in supporting ukraine throughout russia’s invasion, article bookmarked.

Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile

Morning Headlines

Get the free Morning Headlines email for news from our reporters across the world

Sign up to our free morning headlines email, thanks for signing up to the morning headlines email.

Volodymyr Zelensky was greeted with a hug by Rishi Sunak after arriving in Britain to seek more support for his country’s war effort - as the UK vowed to provide Ukraine with air defence missiles and attack drones.

The Ukrainian president met his “friend”, the prime minister, as part of a trip around Europe pressing western allies for more military aid.

Mr Sunak welcomed Mr Zelensky to country retreat Chequers - the first time he has hosted a visiting leader at the Buckinghamshire mansion - before the two leaders held talks.

The two leaders had discussed western fighter jets, Mr Zelensky said, and he anticipated “very important decisions” to be made soon. It came as No 10 said Britain would send hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems to the war-torn country.

“Welcome back”, the prime minister said in a post on Twitter, which included a photo of the two leaders in a warm embrace. Mr Zelensky, who has also held meetings in Paris, Berlin and Rome, had also visited the UK three months ago.

During the visit, Mr Sunak praised the Ukrainian leader’s fortitude, drawing a comparison between Mr Zelensky and Sir Winston Churchill during World War Two.

He also said the UK would be “sustaining our support” for Ukraine .

Ukraine-Russia war – live: Putin’s defences ‘compromised’ as Kyiv strikes airbase near border

“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke,” he said.

“They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year.

“We must not let them down.”

Following the pair’s talks, Mr Sunak said the UK will be ready to help train Ukrainian pilots to use Western fighter jets "relatively soon".

He said the provision of warplanes was "not straightforward" but that Britain will play a "key part" in a coalition of countries giving that support to the war-torn nation.

"It is not a straightforward thing as Volodymyr and I have been discussing to build up that fighter combat aircraft capability,” he said.

"It's not just the provision of planes its also the training of pilots and all the logistics that go alongside that and the UK can play a big part in that.

"One thing we will be doing starting actually relatively soon is training of Ukrainian pilots and that's something we've discussed today and we're ready to implement those plans in relatively short order."

Mr Zelensky said on Twitter that the UK is ‘a leader’ when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air

Mr Zelensky, meanwhile, said the two countries were “real partners”, with Mr Sunak knowing details of developments on the battlefield.

“We want to create this jets coalition and I’m very positive with it,” he said.

“We spoke about it and I see that in the closest time you will hear some, I think very important decisions but we have to work a little bit more on it.”

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said there are "no plans" to supply Ukraine with the Typhoon or F-35 jets operated by the UK and said the Ukrainian government identified the more widely-used F-16 as its Western fighter plane of choice.

Mr Sunak confirmed the UK will provide hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aircraft including hundreds of new long-range attack drones. The government said they will be delivered in “the coming months” as Ukraine prepares to step up its resistance to the ongoing Russian invasion.

Last week the UK confirmed it will supply Ukraine with the long-range Storm Shadow missiles it requested for its fight against invading Russian forces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) and Volodymyr Zelensky during the Ukrainian President’s last visit to the UK (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the weapons will give Ukraine the “best chance” of defending itself.

The Kremlin said Russia takes an "extremely negative" view of Britain's decision to supply long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles and other military hardware to Ukraine, but that it does not believe it will change the conflict's outcome.

The pair met in the Hawtrey Room, where Sir Winston made some of the radio addresses that helped keep up morale during the Second World War.

Mr Sunak said: “You are actually the first foreign leader I have had the privilege of welcoming here as Prime Minister and there’s a lot of great history here.

“In fact, this room that we are standing in, Winston Churchill made many of his famous speeches in World War Two from this room.

“And the same way today, your leadership, your country’s bravery and fortitude are an inspiration to us all.”

The visit comes days after Liverpool hosted Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine.

Zelensky and the Pope shook hands at the Vatican at the weekend

Mr Zelensky met Pope Francis in the Vatican last weekend, after Italy pledged its full support for Kyiv in its defence against the Russian invasion.

Earlier he met Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who condemned Russia’s “brutal and unjust aggression,” pledged Italy’s support for Ukraine for “as long as is necessary,” and urged Russia to immediately withdraw.

And Mr Zelensky made his first visit to Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine - where he was met with military honours by chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Berlin announced €2.7bn (£2.4bn) of military aid to Ukraine, its biggest such package yet, and pledged further support for Kyiv for as long as necessary.

The Ukrainian president and his team have been vigorously promoting Kyiv’s 10-point peace plan and urging world leaders to hold a Global Peace Summit based on the proposals.

It calls for restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders. Mr Zelensky has repeatedly said the plan is not open to negotiations.

Mr Zelensky on Monday lauded "important and powerful" military aid from Britain, France and Germany, and said he was pleased with agreements reached during a tour of Europe.

"The priority (during our talks) was our counteroffensive actions, I am very pleased with the achievements and agreements," he said while visiting Mr Sunak.

Zelensky welcomed with military honours as he visits Germany for first time since Russian invasion

After Moscow acknowledged on Friday that its forces had fallen back north of Ukraine’s battlefield city of Bakhmut, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russian troops had likely withdrawn “in bad order”.

The MoD said Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, established last Autumn, was dogged with allegations of poor morale and limited combat effectiveness and its deployment to Bakhmut reflected a severe shortage of credible combat units on Moscow’s part.

Mr Zelensky’s visit comes after two of Vladimir Putin’s military commanders were killed in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s military said, as it warned of a renewed effort by Kyiv’s forces to break through in the frontline city of Bakhmut.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Subscribe to Independent Premium to bookmark this article

Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.

New to The Independent?

Or if you would prefer:

Want an ad-free experience?

Hi {{indy.fullName}}

  • My Independent Premium
  • Account details
  • Help centre
  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Downing Street

Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrives in UK on first visit since Russian invasion

Ukrainian president to meet king and address parliament, as Sunak reveals training for Ukrainian jet pilots

  • UK politics live – latest news updates
  • Russia-Ukraine war – latest news updates

Volodymyr Zelenskiy was embraced by the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, as the Ukrainian president arrived in the UK for his first visit since the Russian invasion.

Sunak announced the visit with a pledge of additional military support and training, as well as a number of new sanctions, including a Russian drone manufacturer and military manufacturers. The visit will mark the second time Zelenskiy has left Ukraine since the start of the war.

Shortly after the pair met in Downing Street, the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, used prime minister’s questions to emphasise support from across the House of Commons for Ukraine. Zelenskiy will address MPs in Westminster Hall, meet King Charles and then visit troops training in the UK.

At PMQs, Sunak said the “entire house came together to stand by Ukraine when the moment mattered and … we will continue to stand with them united as one parliament and one United Kingdom”.

Zelenskiy landed at Stansted airport on Wednesday morning and drove with Sunak to Downing Street for a brief meeting. They shook hands again on the steps of No 10 and, in a break with protocol, staff applauded as Zelenskiy entered the building.

 Volodymyr Zelenskiy greeted by Rishi Sunak after landing in the UK – video

Zelenskiy, who made brief remarks saying he had a “very good relationship” with Sunak, was accompanied by a large delegation of civilian and military officials who entered No 10 moments later, also to applause.

Upon landing at Stansted, Zelenskiy posted on Telegram: “The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine’s aid. And today I’m in London to personally thank the British people for their support and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his leadership.”

At PMQs, Starmer said the Commons was honoured to be addressed by Zelenskiy. “He has symbolised the heroism, the resolve and the bravery of his people,” Starmer said.

The Labour leader said he and Sunak had lived through important moments in domestic and national politics. “But none of those experiences compares to the pain and suffering of the people of Ukraine … it is vital that we all continue to stand together in full support of Ukraine.”

Sunak has announced plans to train Ukrainian pilots, paving the way for them to fly sophisticated Nato-standard jets, a request from Zelenskiy.

Before the visit, Sunak said: “President Zelenskiy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.

“Since 2014, the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory. I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future.

“It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine for years to come.”

after newsletter promotion

The expansion of the UK’s training programme to include jet fighter pilots is significant as Zelenskiy has repeatedly called on western countries to supply planes. The UK has so far refused, arguing that the RAF’s F-35 and Typhoon jets take too long for pilots to train on.

The announcement by No 10 signals a shift for the future, and officials said that “as part of that long-term capability investment” the UK would work with Ukraine and international allies “to coordinate collective support to meet Ukraine’s defensive needs”.

Ukrainian troops are being trained in the use of Challenger 2 tanks, which are expected to be sent to the country next month.

Sunak will offer longer-range firepower to help counter Russia’s ability to strike at Ukrainian towns and energy facilities.

The UK also announced new sanctions targeting people who have helped Vladimir Putin build his personal wealth, as well as firms that have profited from the war.

Individuals placed under sanctions include the presidential commissioner for entrepreneur’s rights, Boris Titov, and the owner of Aerostart, Viktor Myachin, who the Foreign Office said were connected to Putin through “opaque financial networks”.

Another on the list is Putin’s alleged former lover Svetlana Krivonogikh, who worked as a cleaner in the 1990s before allegedly meeting Putin in St Petersburg. The Pandora Papers leak revealed how she rapidly grew rich and acquired several properties, including a luxury flat in Monaco.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy
  • Foreign policy
  • Rishi Sunak
  • House of Commons
  • Keir Starmer

Most viewed

Thursday, May 30, 2024 1:09 am (Paris)

  • United Kingdom
  • War in Ukraine

Zelensky makes surprise visit to UK

For his second trip outside Ukraine since the war with Russia began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is traveling to London.

Le Monde with AP

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Messenger
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by email
  • Share on Linkedin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on February 3, 2023.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a rare trip out of his country on Wednesday, February 8, daring to visit Britain in a bid to secure more advanced weapons as Kyiv braces for an expected Russian offensive and hatches its own plans to retake land.

British media reported Zelensky's plane landed at London Stansted airport, north of London, on a Royal Air Force aircraft. It was his first trip to the United Kingdom since Russia's invasion began nearly a year ago and only his second confirmed journey outside Ukraine during the war after a visit to the United States in December last year.

Zelenskyy was to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street. He was also expected to address Parliament and meet with King Charles III and UK military chiefs.

The UK is one of the biggest military backers of Ukraine and has sent the country more than $2.5 billion in weapons and equipment.

The visit comes as Sunak announced that Britain will train Ukrainian pilots on "NATO-standard fighter jets." Ukraine has urged its allies to send jets, though the UK has said it was not practical to provide the Ukrainian military with British warplanes.

More than 10,000 Ukrainian troops have also been trained at bases in the UK, some on the Challenger 2 tanks that Britain is sending.

"I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future," Sunak said. "It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come."

Zelensky addressed the UK Parliament remotely in March 2022, two weeks after the start of the invasion. He echoed World War II leader Winston Churchill's famous "never surrender" speech, vowing that Ukrainians "will fight till the end at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost."

Counteroffensive

Before Sunak took office, Zelensky had formed a bond with Boris Johnson who was one of Ukraine’s most vocal backers while he was prime minister. Sunak took office in October and has pledged to maintain British support.

In Brussels, there were increasing expectations that the Ukrainian leader might also make his first visit to European Union institutions since the war began.

Leaders from the bloc will be gathering for a summit in Brussels on Thursday. That would enable Zelensky to meet with all major leaders of the bloc in one day. Zelensky has often addressed EU summits only through video calls from Ukraine.

The EU's legislature has also slated a special plenary session in Brussels for Thursday in the hopes that Zelensky will come following his trip to Britain.

Russian forces in Ukraine are focusing their efforts on "waging a counteroffensive" in the country’s industrial east, with the aim of taking full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that make up the Donbas, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.

Ukrainian authorities say the Kremlin's goal is to complete full control of the Donbas, an expansive industrial area bordering Russia. That would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a major battlefield success after months of setbacks and help him rally public opinion behind the war.

Lecture du Monde en cours sur un autre appareil.

Vous pouvez lire Le Monde sur un seul appareil à la fois

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil.

Parce qu’une autre personne (ou vous) est en train de lire Le Monde avec ce compte sur un autre appareil.

Vous ne pouvez lire Le Monde que sur un seul appareil à la fois (ordinateur, téléphone ou tablette).

Comment ne plus voir ce message ?

En cliquant sur «  Continuer à lire ici  » et en vous assurant que vous êtes la seule personne à consulter Le Monde avec ce compte.

Que se passera-t-il si vous continuez à lire ici ?

Ce message s’affichera sur l’autre appareil. Ce dernier restera connecté avec ce compte.

Y a-t-il d’autres limites ?

Non. Vous pouvez vous connecter avec votre compte sur autant d’appareils que vous le souhaitez, mais en les utilisant à des moments différents.

Vous ignorez qui est l’autre personne ?

Nous vous conseillons de modifier votre mot de passe .

Lecture restreinte

Votre abonnement n’autorise pas la lecture de cet article

Pour plus d’informations, merci de contacter notre service commercial.

NBC Boston

Zelenskyy Says He Will Visit UK on European Tour Seeking Military Aid

By john leicester and jill lawless • published may 15, 2023 • updated on may 15, 2023 at 3:54 am.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Britain on Monday, as the staunch ally of Ukraine prepares to give more military aid in an effort to change the course of the war.

It will be the fourth European country Zelenskky has visited in the past few days. He made an unannounced visit to Paris on Sunday evening to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, after trips to Germany and Italy, where he met those countries' leaders and Pope Francis.

Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are

A message posted Monday on Zelenskyy's official Telegram Channel said: "Today — London. The UK is leading the way when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air. This cooperation will continue today. I will meet my friend Rishi. We will conduct substantive negotiations face-to-face and in delegations.”

Sunak's office confirmed the two leaders would meet at Chequers. the prime minister's country retreat outside London.

Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

The U.K. has become one of Ukraine's major military allies. Last week Britain announced it was sending Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers (150 miles) — the first known shipment of the weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.

zelenskyy visit uk

Zelenskyy Arrives in Rome for Meetings With Pope Francis, Italian Officials

zelenskyy visit uk

Zelenskyy Says Russia Intensifying Attacks Out of Frustration; Moscow Holds Victory Day Military Parade

Zelenskyy toured European capitals over the weekend to seek more aid as Ukraine prepares a long-anticipated spring offensive to retake territory seized by Russia.

Zelenskyy and Macron met for about three hours at the French presidential Elysee Palace — an encounter kept under wraps until shortly before the Ukrainian leader’s arrival in Paris.

Macron’s office said France will supply dozens of light tanks and armored vehicles “in the weeks ahead,” without giving specific numbers. Also promised were more air defense systems, but again details weren’t made public.

More Ukrainians will also be made battle-ready, with France aiming to train about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers in France this year and nearly 4,000 others in Poland as part of a wider European effort, Macron’s office said.

France has supplied Ukraine with an array of weaponry, include air defense systems, light tanks, howitzers and other arms and equipment and fuel.

France had dispatched a plane to pick up Zelenskyy in Germany, where he met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier Sunday and discussed his country’s planned counteroffensive.

It was his first visit to Berlin since the start of the invasion and came a day after the German government announced a new package of military aid for Ukraine worth more than 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), including tanks, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition.

After initially hesitating to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons, Germany has become one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Ukraine, including Leopard 1 and 2 battle tanks, and the sophisticated IRIS-T SLM air defense system. Modern Western hardware is considered crucial if Ukraine is to succeed in its planned counteroffensive.

In the western German city of Aachen, Zelenskyy also received the prestigious International Charlemagne Prize, awarded to him and the people of Ukraine.

On Saturday. he met Francis and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni in Rome.

On the European trip, Zelenskyy said it will aim to liberate Russian-occupied areas within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, and not attack Russian territory.

The Washington Post cited previously undisclosed documents from a trove of U.S. intelligence leaks suggesting that Zelenskyy has considered trying to capture areas in Russia proper for possible use as bargaining chips in peace negotiations to end the war launched by Moscow in February 2022. This would put him at odds with Western governments that have insisted that weapons they provide must not be used to attack targets in Russia.

Asked about the report, Zelenskyy said: “We don’t attack Russian territory, we liberate our own legitimate territory.”

“We have neither the time nor the strength (to attack Russia),” he said, according to an official interpreter. “And we also don’t have weapons to spare with which we could do this.”

“We are preparing a counterattack for the illegally occupied areas based on our constitutionally defined legitimate borders, which are recognized internationally,” Zelenskyy said.

Among areas still occupied by Russia are the Crimean peninsula and parts of eastern Ukraine with mainly Russian-speaking populations.

Lawless reported from London.

This article tagged under:

zelenskyy visit uk

Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy announced a "global peace summit", co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June.

Sunday 26 May 2024 10:42, UK

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Volodymyr Zelenskyy

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has directly called on his US and Chinese counterparts to join his latest summit for peace in Ukraine.

He claimed 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance.

But he said: "I am appealing to the global leaders of the world who are still outside the global efforts of the global peace summit.

"To President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China, we do not want the UN charter to be burned.

"Please show your leadership in advancing the peace."

Residents evacuated from a building hit by strikes in Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

He added that it must be "real peace - not just a pause in the strikes" after various ceasefire breaches by the Russians.

More on Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the presidential palace in Ukraine on Thursday. Pic: AP

Ukraine war: Zelenskyy is relying on his TV charisma but photo-op no longer has currency it once had in US

Ukraine weapons

Russia is producing artillery shells around three times faster than Ukraine's Western allies and for about a quarter of the cost

A man watches as smoke rises from a household item shopping mall which was hit by a Russian air strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine war: Crowded DIY store in Kharkiv hit by Russian airstrikes, killing at least 14 people

Related Topics:

Finally, he urged: "The efforts of the global majority are the best guarantee that all commitments will be fulfilled."

Firefighters work at a site of a household item shopping mall hit by a Russian air strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Printworks and shopping centre targeted this week

Kharkiv, Ukraine's second city, with a pre-war population of 1.5 million people, is close to the frontline, and has been consistently targeted since the initial invasion in February 2022.

On Thursday, its 'Vivat' printworks, which is the country's largest, was hit by missiles, killing seven people, and destroying an estimated 50,000 books. A further 21 people were injured, Ukrainian officials said.

On Saturday, a strike on a shopping centre killed six people, injured 40, and left a further 16 unaccounted for, local authorities said.

Elsewhere in the city, an additional 11 people were injured as a result of strikes, including a 13-year-old boy.

Just over the border, in Russia's Belgorod region, the regional governor there said four residents died as a result of Ukrainian attacks on Saturday.

Aftermath of Russian strike on Kharkiv on Saturday. Pic: Reuters

Read more Crowded DIY stores hit by strikes Ukrainians training without firing due to shortages Putin thanks Xi for his Ukraine efforts

Mr Zelenskyy warned a new Russian offensive is being planned northwest of Kharkiv.

Ukrainians and military analysts have repeatedly warned of depleting weapon supplies on the frontline.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Be the first to get Breaking News

Install the Sky News app for free

zelenskyy visit uk

Earlier this month the US agreed to a further $2bn (£1.6bn) in military support for Ukraine .

It has consistently resisted calls to send US troops there, in line with NATO's refusal for direct involvement in the conflict.

China has resisted calls by NATO and its member states to take a direct stance against Russia in support of Ukraine.

President Xi hosted Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a show of "friendship" earlier this month.

Related Topics

Volodymyr Zelensky in a green T-shirt against a dark background.

‘What’s the Problem?’ Zelensky Challenges West Over Hesitations.

“Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times. “And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the presidential offices in Kyiv after an interview with The New York Times on Monday. Credit...

Supported by

  • Share full article

Andrew E. Kramer

By Andrew E. Kramer

Photographs by Daniel Berehulak

Reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine

  • Published May 21, 2024 Updated May 22, 2024

With his army struggling to fend off fierce Russian advances all across the front, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine urged the United States and Europe to do more to defend his nation, dismissing fears of nuclear escalation and proposing that NATO planes shoot down Russian missiles in Ukrainian airspace.

Mr. Zelensky said he had also appealed to senior U.S. officials to allow Ukraine to fire American missiles and other weaponry at military targets inside Russia — a tactic the United States continues to oppose. The inability to do so, he insisted, gave Russia a “huge advantage” in cross-border warfare that it is exploiting with assaults in Ukraine’s northeast.

Video player loading

His comments, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times in central Kyiv, were among his most full-throated appeals yet to the United States and its NATO allies for more help. Over 50 minutes at the ornate House With Chimeras in the presidential offices, he spoke with a mix of frustration and bewilderment at the West’s reluctance to take bolder steps to ensure that Ukraine prevails.

Mr. Zelensky has long lobbied the West, for more weapons in particular. But his pleas this week come at a critical time for Ukraine’s war effort, with its army in retreat and a new package of American arms yet to arrive in sufficient quantities. Not since the early days of the war has Ukraine faced as grave a military challenge, analysts say.

It’s also a pivotal time in Ukrainian politics. Mr. Zelensky spoke on the last day of his five-year presidential term. Elections scheduled for March were suspended because of the war, and he will remain president under martial law powers, with his tenure potentially stretching as long as the war.

In the wide-ranging interview, Mr. Zelensky, 46, discussed the wrenching sadness of visiting mass graves and consoling the families of dead soldiers, but also his own personal journey, and the “recharge” he gets from the little time he has to spend with his children. He said he would like to read more but falls asleep too quickly at night to get far.

He was most animated as he ticked off a checklist of actions he believed his allies should take to support Ukraine. He argued that NATO should shoot down Russian missiles in flight over Ukraine — without planes crossing into Ukrainian airspace — saying that would be a purely defensive tactic and pose no risk of direct combat with Russian forces.

“So my question is, what’s the problem? Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue.”

“Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine,” he added. “And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.”

Video player loading

That kind of direct NATO involvement, which analysts say could provoke Russia to retaliate, has been resisted in Western capitals. But Mr. Zelensky drew a comparison to how the United States and Britain helped Israel shoot down a barrage of drones and missiles from Iran last month.

“This is what we saw in Israel,” Mr. Zelensky said. “Not even on such a large scale.” The White House response to the comparison then was, “ Different conflicts, different airspace, different threat picture. ”

Mr. Zelensky also urged the alliance to come through with more F-16 fighter jets as well as Patriot air defense systems.

“Can we get seven?” he said, saying Ukraine needed more Patriot systems but would settle for that number to protect regions key to the nation’s economy and energy sector. He suggested a decision might be reached when NATO leaders gathered for a summit in Washington in July.

“Do you think it is too much for the NATO anniversary summit in Washington?” he asked. “For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?”

Asked about potential cease-fire negotiations, he called for diplomacy that avoids direct talks with Russia but rallies nations behind Ukraine’s positions for an eventual peace settlement. It would begin with plans to secure Ukrainian food exports to developing nations, prisoner exchanges, measures to secure a Russian-occupied nuclear power station in Ukraine’s south and returning Ukrainian children whom he said were abducted and taken to Russia.

He said he hoped dozens of nations would get behind such an initiative when they gathered at a “peace summit” in mid-June in Switzerland. And he pressed again for a plan for Ukraine to join NATO.

He also welcomed recent suggestions by some allies that NATO send troops to train or support Ukrainian forces in Ukraine, though he added, “I don’t see it, except in words.”

More immediately, he said the ability to use Western-provided weapons to strike at military targets inside Russia was essential for Ukraine’s success.

Only by using these weapons to destroy logistical hubs in Russia and Russian planes in Russian territory, he said, could Ukraine effectively defend itself from the recent assault in the northeast which threatens Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

“How do we respond when they strike our cities?” he said, noting that Ukraine could see Russian forces massing across the border before they attacked but was powerless to strike them.

“They proceed calmly,” he added, “understanding that our partners do not give us permission” to use their weapons to retaliate.

The West’s primary reason for hesitating — fear of nuclear escalation — was overblown, Mr. Zelensky said, because President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would refrain from using nuclear weapons out of a sense of self-preservation.

“He may be irrational, but he loves his own life,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Video player loading

He also suggested that there was another reason for the West’s hesitation: Some countries were seeking to retain trade and diplomatic ties with Russia. “Everyone keeps the door slightly ajar,” he said.

It’s been a tumultuous run for Mr. Zelensky. He was elected in 2019 on a platform of negotiating peace with Russia, which his critics said was naïve. He also pledged to crack down on corruption and promised to serve only one five-year term.

A television personality before becoming president, Mr. Zelensky alternates between diplomacy to drum up support for Ukraine and exhortations to his soldiers and civilians in the face of deteriorating military prospects. He said he has little time to see his son and daughter, 11 and 19, but called spending time with them his “happiest moments.”

“For example, I ask my son what’s happening,” he said. “He says they’re starting to learn Spanish. I’m interested in that. I don’t know Spanish, but honestly, I’m only interested in the time I can spend with him, no matter what he’s doing.”

“These are the moments that recharge you, give you energy. These are the happiest moments. That’s when I can relax.”

A closer-cropped portrait of Mr. Zelensky, his expression serious.

He said he also recharges by working out in the mornings, and tries at night to read. “I’ll be honest, any kind of fiction, I read at night, two, three, four, 10 pages max, and then I fall asleep,” he said.

He reflected for a moment when asked what he would do after the war, and appeared to contemplate the prospect that Russia would prevail. “After the war, after the victory, these are different things,” he said. “It could be different. I think my plans depend on that.

“So, I would like to believe that there will be a victory for Ukraine. Not an easy one, very difficult. It is absolutely clear that it will be very difficult. And I would just like to have a bit of time with my family and with my dogs.”

Mr. Zelensky passed a critical point in his presidency early in the war with the failure of Russia’s attempted decapitating attack on the Ukrainian leadership in Kyiv, which he has said included a plan to capture or assassinate him.

Now, nearly 27 months later, it’s unclear how or when his presidency will end. Ukraine’s martial law, which is periodically renewed with votes in Parliament, rules out holding presidential elections. Though his party, Servant of the People, holds a majority of seats, party discipline has reportedly unraveled in recent months, and Mr. Zelensky has struggled to push through bills.

After the shock of the initial invasion, 90 percent of Ukrainians said they trusted Mr. Zelensky; that figure had fallen to 60 percent by February, according to polling by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology.

Competitive national elections have been a success of Ukraine’s politics since independence in 1991, fulfilling the promise of a democratic transition that fell flat in Russia, Belarus and some countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

International experts on elections have supported Ukraine’s decision to suspend voting during the war, given that millions of Ukrainians would be unable to vote in areas under occupation, as refugees in Europe or while serving as soldiers at the front.

Asked to assess the health of Ukraine’s democracy, he said, “Ukraine doesn’t need to prove anything about democracy to anyone.”

“Because Ukraine and its people are proving it through their war,” he went on. “Without words, without unnecessary rhetoric, without just rhetorical messages floating in the air. They prove it with their lives.”

Bill Brink and Philip P. Pan and Anastasia Kuznietsova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

An earlier version of this article misstated the time period between The New York Times’s interview with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and the start of the country’s war with Russia. It was 27 months, not 17 months.

How we handle corrections

Andrew E. Kramer is the Kyiv bureau chief for The Times, who has been covering the war in Ukraine since 2014. More about Andrew E. Kramer

Daniel Berehulak is a staff photographer for The Times based in Mexico City. More about Daniel Berehulak

Our Coverage of the War in Ukraine

News and Analysis

U.S. and allied intelligence officials are tracking an increase in low-level sabotage operations in Europe  that they say are part of a Russian campaign to undermine support for Ukraine’s war effort.

Some American-made, precision-guided weapons supplied to Ukraine have proved ineffective on the battlefield , their accuracy badly diminished by Russian jamming efforts.

Ukraine has begun releasing prisoners to serve in its army , part of a wider effort to rebuild a military that has been depleted by more than two years of war and is strained by relentless Russian assaults.

Zelensky Interview: In an interview with the New York Times, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine challenged the West  over its reluctance to take bolder action.

Striking a Chord: A play based on a classic 19th-century novel, “The Witch of Konotop,” is a smash hit among Ukrainians who see cultural and historical echoes  in the story of what they face after two years of war.

Europe’s Defense Industry: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jolted Europe out of complacency about military spending. But the challenges are about more than just money .

How We Verify Our Reporting

Our team of visual journalists analyzes satellite images, photographs , videos and radio transmissions  to independently confirm troop movements and other details.

We monitor and authenticate reports on social media, corroborating these with eyewitness accounts and interviews. Read more about our reporting efforts .

Advertisement

Zelenskyy canceled all his foreign trips, a sign things are critically bad for Ukraine right now

  • Ukraine's president abruptly canceled foreign trips in the face of critical threats to his country.
  • Russia's new assault on the Kharkiv region has put further strains on Ukraine's defenses.
  • The situation could become desperate — at least until Western aid arrives.

Insider Today

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has postponed all of his upcoming international trips, in a further sign that Ukraine is at a critical moment of jeopardy in the war with Russia.

Zelenskyy's press secretary, Sergii Nykyforov, made the announcement in a Facebook post on Wednesday , saying new dates would be worked out in the future.

Nykyforov did not provide any reason for the postponements, but unnamed diplomatic sources told Spanish news agency EFE that arrangements to meet King Felipe VI of Spain had been canceled due to the complexities of Ukraine's military situation on the front.

Zelenskyy had also been due to visit Portugal, the outlet reported.

The situation for Ukraine right now appears bleak.

In a comment piece for The Telegraph on Wednesday, former British tank regiment commander Hamish de Bretton Gordon said that Russia could defeat Ukraine within a matter of months.

"In the worst case scenario, Russia could make significant gains this summer and terminally unsettle Ukraine's defense," he wrote.

Zelenskyy's hasty travel cancellations only point to the seriousness of the situation, he added.

De Bretton Gordon blamed the US and NATO's "indecision and procrastination" for emboldening Russian President Vladimir Putin in his offensive.

For months, Ukraine has defended 620 miles of front line on what Institute for the Study of War analyst George Barros told Business Insider in April is a "starvation diet" of military aid.

Ukrainian rear defensive lines are thinned almost to nonexistence in some parts of the Donetsk frontline hotspots of Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar, the Associated Press reported earlier this month.

This has given Russian forces the chance to make small but steady gains.

And Russia's newest push —  in the northern region of Kharkiv — adds a new headache for Ukraine.

"All of our forces are either here or in Chasiv Yar," Ukraine's head of military intelligence, Kyryo Budanov, told The New York Times this week of the Kharkiv offensive.

"I've used everything we have," he added. "Unfortunately, we don't have anyone else in the reserves."

Related stories

Earlier this week, a Ukrainian commander told the BBC that key fortifications had been missing in the Kharkiv town of Vovchansk, and blamed the shortfall on negligence or corruption. "The Russians just walked in," he said.

Vovchansk is not far from the border with Russia and is about 25 miles from Kharkiv city's outer limits.

It's one of 30 settlements that have seen heavy bombardment by Russian forces, Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Monday. More than 5,700 civilians have been evacuated from the region, he added.

Zelenskyy wrote on social media on Thursday that he had sat down with his commanders to discuss the region's situation — described as extremely difficult — which he nonetheless said Ukrainian forces had begun to stabilize.

The Institute for the Study of War earlier assessed that Russia would need a significantly larger force to take Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, and that the offensive there may simply be a way to draw Ukrainian capabilities away from their positions in the east.

Holding on until Western aid comes

Meanwhile, chronic delays in Western support has left Ukraine badly under-supplied in ammunition.

Months of prevarication in Ukraine over the passing of a new conscription law has also thinned out its fighters.

Unable to move aggressively on the front line in recent months, Ukraine has had to "think in more 3D terms about the battle space," RAND analyst Ann Marie Dailey earlier told BI.

A ferocious drone strike campaign — largely conducted with a homegrown device — has been waged on Russian oil refineries since the start of the year, and shows signs of pressuring the country's oil economy .

Ukraine has also seen success in subduing Russia's once-feared Black Sea Fleet with drone and cruise missile strikes.

But these successes have little immediate, direct impact back on the front.

The current situation has led to increased calls for Ukraine's allies to contemplate crossing long-held red lines.

Ukrainian officials have renewed their pleas to be allowed to use US-supplied weapons on Russian soil, saying they had watched helplessly without being able to strike when Russian forces massed at the border for their Kharkiv advance, Politico reported .

And some observers are echoing French President Emmanuel Macron's assertion that NATO countries should reconsider their hardline stance against the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine, even if it's simply to dent Putin's confidence.

"Too many Western leaders have ruled this out," de Bretton Gordon wrote.

This critical moment for Ukraine may also be short-lived.

US officials, speaking anonymously to The New York Times, said that once the US military aid package starts to filter through — estimated at around July — it's possible Ukraine will be able to reverse some of Russia's gains.

"This year represents a window of opportunity for Russia," military analyst Michael Kofman told the Times.

"But if the Russian military is not able to turn these advantages into battlefield gains and generate momentum, there's a fair chance that this window will begin to close as we enter 2025."

Watch: What's next for the war in Ukraine?

zelenskyy visit uk

  • Main content
  • Newsletters

Belgium agrees to send €977 million in military aid to Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shakes hands with Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during their meeting in Brussels, 28 May 2024

Ukraine and Belgium inked a bilateral security pact, with Belgium committing €977 million in military aid and 30 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo signed a bilateral security and long-term support deal on Tuesday, including an agreement to send Kyiv €977 million in Belgian military aid this year.

 "This will ensure Belgium's commitment to providing our country with support over the course of the agreement's ten-year term," Zelenskyy said in a post on X on Tuesday.

"For the first time, such an agreement specifies the exact number of F-16 fighter jets — 30 — that will be delivered to Ukraine until 2028, with the first arriving already this year," he added.

According to Zelenskyy, the agreement guarantees Belgium's timely security assistance, modern armoured vehicles, equipment to meet Ukraine's air force and air defence needs, naval security, mine clearance, participation in the artillery ammunition coalition, and military training.

The deal also includes plans for defence industry cooperation, backing Ukraine’s Peace Formula, and reinforcing sanctions against Russia, among other provisions.

Belgian Prime Minister De Croo said Zelenskyy required "the right tools to protect his citizens."

"We are very determined when it comes to our support," he wrote in a post on X, "so we need to do more, better and faster." 

Zelenskyy was in the Belgian capital to shore up Western support for the war-battered Ukraine. He is also scheduled to visit a military airbase in the Belgian capital, where he will meet instructors helping to train Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made jets. 

Belgium has pledged to supply fighter aircraft to Kyiv as part of a broader initiative by European allies and hopes to begin deliveries this year.

Zelenskyy's Belgium visit comes a day after he travelled to Spain and successfully secured a Spanish pledge of additional air defence missiles. This will help fend off roughly 3,000 rockets and drones Russia fires at the country every month. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (centre) talks with Spain's King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia at the Royal Palace in Madrid on Monday, May 27, 2024.

Despite the win, the Ukrainian leader said he still needs US-made Patriot air defences to counter Kremlin attacks on the heavily-hit power grid and civilian areas .

“If we had these modern Patriot systems, (Russian) airplanes wouldn’t be able to fly close enough to drop the bombs on the civilian population and the military,” Zelenskyy said at a news conference in the Spanish capital.

You might also like

Zelenskyy gets more air defence missiles from spain in fight against russia, west should rethink restrictions on weapons for ukraine: nato chief, 'it has gone very far:' eu countries voice exasperation over hungary's vetoes on ukraine aid.

Facebook

zelenskyy visit uk

Ukraine invasion — explained

The roots of Russia's invasion of Ukraine go back decades and run deep. The current conflict is more than one country fighting to take over another; it is — in the words of one U.S. official — a shift in "the world order." Here are some helpful stories to make sense of it all.

Blinken tells Ukraine U.S. aid will make a difference against Russia's offensive

Headshot of Joanna Kakissis

Joanna Kakissis

zelenskyy visit uk

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Independence Square during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday. Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu via Getty Images hide caption

Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Independence Square during his visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday.

KYIV, Ukraine — In an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said part of a U.S. aid package has arrived and more is on it way, which will "make a real difference" against Russia's offensive .

Blinken said President Biden shipped ammunition, armored vehicles and other weaponry to Ukraine "one minute" after Congress passed the $61 billion package last month. "Much more will be delivered to the battlefield in the coming weeks," he added.

Congressional Republicans had delayed the aid for months, leaving Ukrainian troops low on ammunition and weapons.

In Ukraine, the vote to renew U.S. aid was cheered. But unease for the future remains

In Ukraine, the vote to renew U.S. aid was cheered. But unease for the future remains

In a speech at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Blinken declared that the U.S. is "bringing Ukraine closer to — and then into — NATO."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quick to emphasize how badly Ukraine needs a fresh supply of weapons and ammunition, pointing out that it's a "tough period for the east of our country, for our warriors." He asked Blinken for two more Patriot air defense systems to protect the northeastern region, which includes Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city.

zelenskyy visit uk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands during their meeting on Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine. Vitalii Nosach /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images hide caption

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shake hands during their meeting on Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Russia Makes Surprising Gains in Ukraine

State of the World from NPR

Russia makes surprising gains in ukraine.

Since Friday, Ukrainian troops have been struggling to push back a renewed Russian offensive near Kharkiv. Russian troops have occupied several border villages and are on the outskirts of the town of Vovchansk, which is just 5 miles from the Russian border. Russia occupied the town several months after the full-scale invasion in February 2022, until Ukrainian troops reclaimed it.

zelenskyy visit uk

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station on Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine. Brendan Smialowski/AP hide caption

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink after arriving by train at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station on Tuesday in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Thousands of Ukrainians have fled their homes. Volunteer rescue worker Hryhorii Shcherban, who has been evacuating residents from Vovchansk, told NPR that only a few hundred remain. He says many are elderly and infirm.

"They don't want to leave their homes," he says.

He says that while he was there, Russians dropped at least three guided aerial bombs, which are highly destructive.

"After that, there was constant gunfire," he says. "Suddenly the requests for evacuations increased dramatically."

Dima Yermolovych, a Ukrainian soldier stationed in the area, describes the challenges facing troops.

"It's really hard to keep back Russians without enough equipment, being as outnumbered as we are," he says, "as they attack again and again with tanks and infantry, with troops really prepared for this assault."

Ukraine's Kharkiv moves classrooms underground so kids survive Russian attacks

2 years of Russia-Ukraine war

Ukraine's kharkiv moves classrooms underground so kids survive russian attacks.

Military analysts say Russia may have launched the latest attack so Ukraine would move troops from other parts of the front line, where Russians are also pressing forward.

Ukraine is facing a severe shortage of troops. A new conscription goes into effect this month but it will likely take several weeks to train new soldiers for battle.

Hanna Palamarenko contributed reporting from Kyiv.

A Foiled Assassination Plot in Ukraine; Russia Marks World War II Victory

  • ukraine aid
  • Ukraine-Russia
  • Russia-Ukraine war
  • Russia-Ukraine
  • Antony Blinken

Zelensky meets PM as more Ukraine weapons pledged

  • Published 15 May 2023
  • comments Comments
  • War in Ukraine

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Chequers

The UK will send hundreds of air defence missiles and armed drones to Ukraine on top of the Storm Shadow cruise missiles announced last week.

The move means the UK is going further than any other country in providing weapons with the potential to tip the battlefield in Ukraine's favour.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky met the UK's Rishi Sunak as part of his tour of Western allies.

Mr Zelensky said it was important for the West to send fighter jets as well.

But the prime minister said providing fighter jets was "not a straightforward thing", although he did say the UK would form "a key part of the coalition countries" providing that support.

Ukraine is continuing to prepare for a much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces.

Last week, Mr Zelensky told the BBC his country needed more weaponry before it could launch the attack.

On Monday, the Ukrainian president had about two hours of talks with Mr Sunak at Chequers, near London.

He arrived on British soil for a surprise visit after a whirlwind tour of Western Europe that also took in Rome, Berlin and Paris.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine and the UK were "real partners", while Mr Sunak's spokesman described the meeting as "warm and collegiate".

The Storm Shadow cruise missiles can be used to destroy Russia's positions on occupied Ukrainian territory.

If Ukraine can destroy Russia's command centres, logistics hubs and ammunition depots in occupied territory, then it may prove impossible for Moscow to continue resupplying its frontline troops in places.

This is what Ukraine did so successfully in Kherson last year, forcing the Russians to withdraw almost without a fight. It will now be hoping to repeat the process with the help of Western-supplied munitions.

What weapons are being given to Ukraine by the UK?

The challenges of giving fighter jets to Ukraine

President Zelensky's repeated calls for Nato to send F-16 jets are being met with delays and obfuscations, for several reasons.

The Ukrainian air force has trained its pilots on F-16s, which the RAF do not use, but such training takes months, not days.

Logistics, maintenance and the need to find suitable runways are all important too.

Finally, there is the question of escalation. Nato is struggling to balance giving Kyiv the maximum support it can, without getting directly drawn into this conflict.

If Nato does end up sending F-16 warplanes, however old they may be, then that, in Moscow's eyes, constitutes a major provocation by the West.

Mr Zelensky said he discussed the supply of Western fighter jets with Mr Sunak.

New jets were a "very important topic for us, because we can't control the sky", the Ukrainian leader added.

"We spoke about it and I see that in the closest time you will hear some, I think, very important decisions, but we have to work a little bit more on it," he said.

The UK has no plans to send fighter jets to Ukraine, according to the prime minister's official spokesman.

But No 10 said elementary training for Ukrainian pilots would begin this summer, along with British efforts to work with other countries on providing F-16 jets to Ukraine.

Rishi Sunak embraces Volodmir Zelensky

The prime minister's official spokesman also denied that any drones supplied by the UK would be used to hit targets inside Russia.

They would be used for the defence of Ukraine on Ukrainian sovereign territory, the spokesman said.

Mr Sunak said: "This is a crucial moment in Ukraine's resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke.

"They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year."

In response, Russia said the new British weapons due to be supplied to Kyiv would only cause "further destruction".

"Britain aspires to position itself at the forefront of the countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

European support

Ukraine secured a new defence aid package from Germany after talks in Berlin with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday, taking its total military funding to nearly $7bn (£6.44bn).

Mr Zelensky described the new pledge of German Leopard tanks and anti-aircraft systems as "the largest since the beginning of the full-scale aggression" by Russia in February 2022.

France has promised dozens more light tanks and armoured vehicles after President Emmanuel Macron met his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris.

In February, Mr Zelensky visited London for the first time since the start of the war, during which he attended an audience with the King and addressed Parliament.

His latest visit to the UK comes ahead of a G7 gathering in Hiroshima, Japan, later this week which will also be attended by Mr Sunak.

Related Topics

  • Volodymyr Zelensky
  • Rishi Sunak

More on this story

Ukraine not attacking Russian territory - Zelensky

  • Published 14 May 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Berlin, Germany. Photo: 14 May 2023

Russian missiles hit Ukraine Eurovision act's city

Music duo Tvorchi of Ukraine appears on stage during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2023

Pope tells Zelensky he is 'praying for peace'

  • Published 13 May 2023

Pope Francis meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Vatican. Photo: 13 May 2023

Zelensky: We must wait before starting offensive

  • Published 11 May 2023

President Volodymyr Zelensky doing an interview with the BBC

Comments can not be loaded

To load Comments you need to enable JavaScript in your browser

zelenskyy visit uk

zelenskyy visit uk

Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy on first official visit to Spain

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is making his first official visit to Spain for talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The leaders are expected to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement. Zelenskyy had been scheduled to travel to Spain earlier in May, but had to postpone with reports that it was due to Russia's offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a visit to Uzbekistan where he is looking to broaden cooperation on gas supplies, according to news agencies citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. It is Putin's third trip since his re-election in March.

Here's a look at the latest developments from Russia's war in Ukraine on Monday, May 27.

Putin in Uzbekistan on third trip since inauguration

Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Uzbekistan where he is to hold talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

After his arrival, Putin laid a wreath at a monument to Uzbekistan's independence in Tashkent and held informal talks with Mirziyoyev.

Formal discussions are set to take place on Monday and news agencies have reported that Russia is open to broader cooperation on gas supplies with Uzbekistan.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying that "the possibilities here are very extensive."

Putin has already made visits to China and Belarus since re-election in March, but trips abroad have been infrequent.

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of illegally deporting children from Ukraine, allegations the Kremlin denies.

Zelenskyy making first official visit to Spain

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be in Spain on Monday where he will meet Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for talks.

Sanchez "will receive the president of Ukraine" at noon (1000 GMT), after which they will hold a press conference, the Spanish prime minister's office said in a statement.

Spain's royal family said that Zelenskyy would be received by King Felipe VI at the palace. "Afterwards, King Felipe and Queen Letizia will host a lunch in his honour," it added.

The trip is Zelenskyy's first official visit to Spain and comes amid heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, as Russian forces continue attacking along the frontline.

Zelenskyy had been due to visit Spain in the middle of May but postponed with reports that it was due to the Russian offensive.

Sanchez said last week that he was preparing to sign a bilateral cooperation agreement with Zelesnkyy.

"We have made decisive progress in our bilateral relations with the Ukrainian government," the Socialist leader said.

"So much so that I can announce to you today that, as soon as the situation on the front allows, we will sign an agreement with Ukraine that will increase economic, social and institutional cooperation between our countries," he added.

Like other European Union member states, Spain has committed to supporting Ukraine with financial and military aid since the Russian invasion in February 2022.

In March, Spain said it would transfer 19 German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, the first ten of which are expected by the end of June, reported El Pais .

In May, Madrid provided Kyiv with long-range interceptor missiles for its Patriot air defense systems.

kb/sri (AFP, Reuters, AP)

Zelenskyy's first official visit to Spain comes amid heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine urgently needs soldiers, but some men are desperate not to fight

Military mobility of Ukrainian soldiers in direction of Marinka

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine urgently needs new soldiers , but some — left uneasy by brutal fighting and intensifying conscription efforts — are desperately trying to avoid being called up.

“When you see people in uniform, you panic. You start thinking someone will mobilize you now against your will,” a lawyer based in Kyiv told NBC News. He did not want his identity known, fearful, like a growing number of men across the country, of being drafted into the army if his name is made public just as Russia launches a wave of attacks to try to decisively seize the battlefield initiative.

The 25-year-old has no military experience and just became eligible to be conscripted after Ukraine lowered the age men can be drafted from 27 to 25 last month.

“I love my country,” he said in a phone interview earlier this month. “I donate to the Ukrainian army. But unfortunately, I am not very prepared to fight on the front lines because I don’t have the experience and I am probably not morally prepared to kill somebody, even if it’s someone Russian.”

Facing a third year of assaults from its vast neighbor, Ukraine is running out of men.

While volunteers lined up to fight at the beginning of the war, that fervor has waned and manpower shortages are now an issue that could seal Ukraine’s fate even if it can retain Western support .

So it has taken a series of steps that include passing a new mobilization law, increasing fines for draft dodging, and withholding consular services from Ukrainian men abroad who lack up-to-date military documents — measures that some soldiers on the front lines told NBC News they wholeheartedly support.

The mobilization law came into effect earlier this month in a bid to boost Ukraine’s depleted ranks, but it also has some men on edge.

“The mobilization itself is not even that scary, it’s more the process of being mobilized,” the Kyiv lawyer said. “You worry that someone will throw you into the bus one day, take you somewhere, turn off your phone, and you will be cut off from the world.”

His fear is exacerbated by videos on Ukrainian social media showing altercations between civilian men and recruitment officers on city streets and in public spaces across the country.

A controversial mobilisation law aimed at boosting troop numbers has been introduced which toughens penalties on draft dodgers, incentivises conscription and obliges men to keep their military registration details with the authorities up-to-date.

The exact circumstances in many videos are hard to verify, but NBC News geolocated one that spread widely across social media last week.

It shows a physical fight between recruitment officers and civilians in the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, near to which the Russians launched their new offensive. The territorial recruitment center in Kharkiv responded to the video in a statement on Facebook saying the officers were “aggressively provoked,” which was not shown in the video. One officer was injured, the statement said. Still, it added the officers should not have entered into an argument and physical confrontation.

NBC News reached out to Ukraine’s Ground Forces about the videos and the effect they are having on the public, but has not heard back. Ukraine’s Ground Forces commander, Gen. Oleksandr Pavlyuk, said in March that out-of-context videos and criticism of recruitment officers only provide fodder for Russian propaganda.

Still, they have also been feeding the fears of some draft-eligible men who are left apprehensive about venturing into public spaces and are trying to avoid any contact with authorities.

Others look for ways to illegally escape abroad — men ages 18 to 60 are currently barred from leaving the country.

Andriy Demchenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s border service, said last month that 30 people have died since the beginning of the full-scale invasion trying to cross Ukraine’s western borders by traversing dangerous rivers, like the Tisza separating Romania and Ukraine, and mountains.

The efforts are often arranged by unscrupulous traffickers who are paid thousands of dollars for the crossings, the border service has said in other statements . Demchenko separately told NBC News that draft dodgers also try to cross illegally at regular checkpoints by using forged documents, trying to bribe border officers, or even hiding inside vehicles as stowaways.

For many, there is a “cognitive dissonance”: people want a victory for their country but in a way that means they or their loved ones are not conscripted, said Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. “Some people try to flee abroad, some people go into hiding,” Fesenko said. “But the government has no choice,” he said, given “the situation on the front lines.”

Kyiv has been waiting for new U.S. military aid to arrive as Russia has been advancing in the east and launched its new offensive in the north , further stretching Ukraine’s already limited manpower.

Ukraine has been conducting a rolling mobilization to boost its ranks since Russia invaded in February 2022 . But the new mobilization law that came into effect earlier this month will mean that all men of military age have to report to draft offices to verify their credentials within 60 days. The apparent goal is to give the Ukrainian government a fuller picture of who can be called up. Men will also have to carry their military registration documents with them at all times. Women are currently not being mobilized, but some have volunteered to join the fight .

Long queues at military commissariats whose primary task is recruiting military personnel, are also caused by the passing of the law on mobilization, which imposes on males of conscription age the obligation to update their data. Due to long queues, the Ukraine's Ministry of Defense plans to introduce the online appointment scheduling to military commissariats.

Those who don’t comply will face penalties, including restrictions on driving a car. The law underwent many amendments as lawmakers dragged their feet for months trying to pass an unpopular measure. Separately, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a law earlier this month increasing fines for violating mobilization rules, while another now allows some prisoners to sign voluntary contracts with the army — an echo of a controversial practice employed by the Kremlin.

But it’s not just the draft-eligible men inside the country whom the Ukrainian government is trying to track down.

Anton, 39, was working in Germany as a truck driver before the war started, and came back to eastern Ukraine in December 2021 to see his family. After the invasion, he found himself in Russian-occupied territory, but managed to escape back into Europe. He is now in Ireland and says he doesn’t plan to come back to Ukraine, either now or when the war is over.

Anton, who did not want his last name shared so he can’t be traced by authorities, said he only feels responsible for the well-being of his family. “I don’t have anyone else to answer to,” he said.

A software developer from Kyiv told NBC News he left Ukraine for Portugal this spring before the new mobilization law was adopted. The 35-year-old did not want his identity revealed for fear of possible repercussions, and would not say whether he left Ukraine legally.

He said he left because he was worried about being mobilized, especially after hearing stories of other men being corralled by recruitment officers on the streets, which he said “doesn’t foster a desire to go defend the country.”

He said he knows from speaking with friends in the army that the need for more men is dire. But with no military experience, he said he was of better use to Ukraine by donating thousands of dollars monthly to the army and supporting the country’s economy with taxes he’s paying from abroad, rather than sitting in a trench. “If I see that I, as a person who works a lot with a high income, will be able to get a legal exemption and continue donating, I will immediately return to Ukraine,” he said.

The balance between running the country and mobilizing enough people for the front was also raised recently by the mayor of Dnipro, one of Ukraine’s biggest cities. Borys Filatov criticized the mobilization process, saying he was running out of municipal and public transport workers to ensure life can keep running beyond the front lines, including for the families of those who are serving.

In recent days, Russian forces have gained ground in the Kharkiv region, an area that Ukraine had largely reclaimed in the months following Russia's initial large-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine’s defense ministry told NBC News that information about how many men currently serve in the army and how many it needs to mobilize constitutes a state secret. In December, Zelenskyy said the military had asked to call up 500,000 more men .

Ukraine faces an opponent that can call on far deeper reserves : Russia mobilized 300,000 men in addition to its regular armed forces in the fall of 2022, and has been conducting a rolling recruitment of contractors that has signed up more than 100,000 more men since the beginning of this year alone, according to its defense ministry.

These are sensitive topics for soldiers on the front lines, too.

“The war is ongoing, and the country must fight. People need to join the army. There is no other way,” said Oleksander, a private who joined as a volunteer at the beginning of the war and has been serving since.

For months, Ukrainian soldiers have complained to NBC News of exhaustion and uncertainty about when they could go home. The new mobilization law contains no provisions for demobilization, something that has also scared potential draftees.

“We are emotionally burned out,” said Oleksander, who did not want his last name revealed due to the sensitive nature of his service. “If the country is at war, then the whole country is at war.”

Oleksiy, an officer serving in military intelligence, said his comrades find it “sad and funny” that some Ukrainian men flee the fighting only to die by drowning while trying to escape abroad.

“What do we think of them?” asked Oleksiy, who did not want his last name revealed because he was not authorized to speak with the media and said he was expressing his personal opinion. “Someone has to do this job. If everyone runs away, what will happen?”

Oleksiy said he understands that not everyone can be a warrior, but that there is a need for noncombatant jobs in the army right now, like mechanics. “We need a lot of hands,” he said.

Daryna Mayer reported from Kyiv, and Yuliya Talmazan from London.

Daryna Mayer is an NBC News producer and reporter based in Kyiv, Ukraine.

zelenskyy visit uk

Yuliya Talmazan is a reporter for NBC News Digital, based in London.

IMAGES

  1. President Zelensky in first UK visit since invasion of Ukraine

    zelenskyy visit uk

  2. Zelenskyy visits Britain, promises ‘freedom will win’ and pushes for

    zelenskyy visit uk

  3. HE Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and Rupert Goodman during

    zelenskyy visit uk

  4. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy takes impromptu visit to UK

    zelenskyy visit uk

  5. Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to UK

    zelenskyy visit uk

  6. Zelenskyy heads to Paris after UK visit

    zelenskyy visit uk

COMMENTS

  1. President Zelensky in first UK visit since invasion of Ukraine

    President Zelensky's surprise visit to London marks the second time he has left the country since Russia's invasion in February last year. He made a trip to the United States in December, and met ...

  2. Zelensky UK visit: Nothing off the table, says Sunak, as Zelensky asks

    Summary. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is speaking alongside PM Rishi Sunak in Dorset, at the end of a surprise visit to the UK. Zelensky is asking for the UK to provide fighter jets to ...

  3. Ukraine war: President Volodymyr Zelensky visits the UK

    On Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise trip to the UK to speak in Westminster Hall and meet King Charles at Buckingham Palace. Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street ...

  4. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy holds talks with PM and King today in

    The visit is Volodymyr Zelenskyy's second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago and will involve the UK offering further support in the form of training, equipment and Russian sanctions.

  5. Zelensky makes 'wings for freedom' plea in surprise UK visit

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to the UK on Wednesday, sweeping in to London on the first stage of an unannounced diplomatic tour of European capitals with a powerful ...

  6. Zelenskyy in surprise London visit to meet Sunak and King Charles

    February 8, 2023 10:23 am CET. By Cristina Gallardo. LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in London to meet the U.K. prime minister and King Charles III as Britain announces new training programs for fighter pilots and marines. Zelenskyy's surprise trip includes a visit to see Ukrainian troops being trained by the British ...

  7. PM welcomes President Zelenskyy to the UK ahead of anticipated

    This visit follows President Zelenskyy's visit to the UK in February, which was only the second time the leader had left Ukraine since Putin's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

  8. Zelenskyy seeks weaponry in surprise trips to London, Paris

    8 of 19 |. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is applauded by Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, right, and Speaker of the House of Lords Lord McFall, left, following his address to parliamentarians in Westminster Hall, London, during his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Wednesday Feb. 8, 2023.

  9. UK pledges attack drones, more missiles as Ukraine's Zelenskyy meets

    President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has received a promise of more missiles and attack drones from Britain to support his battle against Russian forces in Ukraine. Zelenskyy met Monday with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a staunch ally. The U.K. was the fifth European country Zelenskky visited in three days to secure more military aid before a long-planned Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake ...

  10. PM extends Ukraine military training to pilots and marines as ...

    President Zelenskyy's visit to the UK is a testament to his country's courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.

  11. PM meeting with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine: 8 February 2023

    Published. 8 February 2023. The Prime Minister hosted President Zelenskyy for a bilateral meeting during his visit to the UK today. He paid tribute to President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people ...

  12. Zelensky in surprise visit to UK

    Rishi Sunak meets President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will make his first visit to the UK since Russia 's invasion of his country today, Downing Street ...

  13. Volodymyr Zelenskiy's surprise visit to the UK

    Sunak Zelenskiy travel by military helicopter to Lulworth Camp in Dorset. Photograph: Simon Walker/No10 Downing Street. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet ...

  14. 2023 visit by Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the United Kingdom

    Location. London, United Kingdom. On 8 February 2023, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, visited the United Kingdom. During his trip, Zelenskyy met Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He also addressed Members of Parliament from Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament and had an audience with King Charles III.

  15. Zelenskyy addresses Parliament in London as UK prepares to increase

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses parliamentarians in Westminster Hall, London, during his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 8, 2023.

  16. Zelensky in surprise UK visit as Britain to send hundreds of missiles

    Mr Zelensky's visit comes after two of Vladimir Putin's military commanders were killed in eastern Ukraine, Russia's military said, as it warned of a renewed effort by Kyiv's forces to ...

  17. Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrives in UK on first visit since Russian invasion

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy was embraced by the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, as the Ukrainian president arrived in the UK for his first visit since the Russian invasion.

  18. Zelensky makes surprise visit to UK

    The UK is one of the biggest military backers of Ukraine and has sent the country more than $2.5 billion in weapons and equipment. The visit comes as Sunak announced that Britain will train ...

  19. Watch: Zelensky addresses parliament on first wartime visit to UK

    Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian President, has thanked Britain for its ongoing support in an historic address to Parliament.He described a visit to the War...

  20. Zelenskyy to Visit UK on European Tour Seeking Military Aid

    By John Leicester and Jill Lawless • Published May 15, 2023 • Updated on May 15, 2023 at 3:54 am. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Britain on Monday, as the staunch ally of Ukraine prepares to give more military aid in an effort to change the course of the war. It will be the fourth European country Zelenskky has visited in the past ...

  21. Zelenskyy calls on Biden and Xi to join Ukraine peace summit

    Speaking from Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Friday, Mr Zelenskyy announced a "global peace summit", co-hosted by Switzerland, starting on 15 June. Sunday 26 May 2024 10:42, UK Please use ...

  22. In Interview, Zelensky of Ukraine Challenges West Over Hesitations

    The West's primary reason for hesitating — fear of nuclear escalation — was overblown, Mr. Zelensky said, because President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia would refrain from using nuclear ...

  23. Ukraine's Zelenskyy calls on Biden and China's Xi to join peace summit

    KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Sunday to join an upcoming peace summit as his country struggles to stave ...

  24. Zelenskyy canceled all his foreign trips, a sign things are critically

    Zelenskyy's hasty travel cancellations only point to the seriousness of the situation, he added. Advertisement. De Bretton Gordon blamed the US and NATO's "indecision and procrastination" for ...

  25. Belgium agrees to send €977 million in military aid to Ukraine

    Zelenskyy's Belgium visit comes a day after he travelled to Spain and successfully secured a Spanish pledge of additional air defence missiles. This will help fend off roughly 3,000 rockets and ...

  26. Zelenskyy to visit Brussels to ink security deals with Western allies

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Belgium on Tuesday to sign a string of security agreements with Western allies, the Belgian prime minister's office said earlier this week. The Ukrainian leader will hold a press conference with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo after the two leaders sign a bilateral security deal ...

  27. Blinken visits Ukraine, says U.S. aid to make real difference against

    KYIV, Ukraine — In an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said part of a U.S. aid package has arrived and more is on it way, which will "make a ...

  28. Zelensky meets PM as more Ukraine weapons pledged

    The UK agrees to provide extra missiles and military drones as Rishi Sunak meets the Ukrainian leader. ... His latest visit to the UK comes ahead of a G7 gathering in Hiroshima, Japan, later this ...

  29. Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy on first official visit to Spain

    Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is to meet Spain's PM Sanchez and King Felipe VI on his first official visit to the country as fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine continues amid Russia's continued ...

  30. Ukraine needs soldiers to fight Russia, but men are dodging Zelenskyy's

    The 25-year-old has no military experience and just became eligible to be conscripted after Ukraine lowered the age men can be drafted from 27 to 25 last month. "I love my country," he said in ...