Zelensky makes surprise trip to U.K. as Ukraine seeks more aid
February 2, 2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday paid a surprise visit to the United Kingdom, which has become one of the country's biggest backers in its war against Russia.
Why it matters: It's his second known trip out of Ukraine — and his first to Britain — since the invasion began in February 2022.
Zelensky visited the U.S. in December for a meeting with President Biden and an address to Congress.
He urged Western nations to speed up their weapons deliveries last month as Russia continued its attacks on eastern Ukraine.
Driving the news: Before meeting Zelensky at 10 Downing St., U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced Wednesday that Britain would train more Ukrainian troops and fighter jet pilots.
Although Ukraine's calls for Western fighter jets have been met with opposition by some European leaders, the training provided by the U.K. would "ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future," per the press release from Sunak's office.
Sunak also pledged to expand the training of Ukrainian marines and to provide Ukraine with weapons that have "longer-range capabilities."
Zelensky is also expected to address Parliament and meet King Charles III.
What they're saying: "The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine's aid," Zelensky said on Telegram. "Today I'm in London to personally thank the British people for their support and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his leadership."
"We will continue to support Ukraine to ensure a decisive military victory on the battlefield this year," Sunak told Parliament Wednesday, the BBC reported.
While addressing Parliament, Zelensky praised the U.K. for its support of Ukraine, saying the country was "marching with us to the most important victory of our lifetime."
He also reiterated calls for Western fighter jets to be given to Ukraine. "Combat aircraft for Ukraine," he said. "Wings for freedom."