Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived in the UK for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2020. During his visit, he will meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and make a speech in Parliament, as well as have an audience with King Charles.
The UK has recently expanded its training program for Ukrainian forces to include fighter jet pilots and marines. This expansion is a significant shift as previously, the UK stated that it was “not practical” to send its aircraft to Ukraine. The UK is also expected to announce new sanctions against Russia during President Zelensky’s visit.
The UK is also offering to provide Ukraine with “longer range capabilities” to disrupt Russia’s ability to target Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure. The British training program will be scaled up this year, with an additional 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers set to be trained.
President Zelensky’s visit to the UK comes ahead of a rumored trip to Brussels where he is expected to address the European Parliament and attend a summit of EU leaders. The news of his trip caused security concerns, but it still took place as planned.
This visit marks President Zelensky’s second trip abroad since the Russian invasion, with his first being a visit to the United States in December 2020.
During his visit to Washington DC, he addressed the US Congress, where he received multiple standing ovations and declared that Ukraine will “never surrender”. President Joe Biden also announced further support for Ukraine, including a Patriot missile defense system.
In March 2020, President Zelensky addressed UK MPs virtually from Kyiv, marking the first time a foreign leader addressed MPs in the Commons chamber.