It’s day two of President Zelensky’s whirlwind tour of Europe. His visit to London yesterday was filled with ceremony, speeches and pleas for more weapons.
What’s the plan today?
As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion looms and Ukraine braces for a new Russian offensive in the east, Zelensky is pushing ever harder for friendly nations to send tanks, jets and missiles.
He is set to attend an EU summit in Brussels Thursday as the guest of honor. There he will press allies to deliver fighter jets “as soon as possible” in the war against Russia.
Zelensky’s attendance will be “a signal of European solidarity,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who met with him last night in France.
The Ukrainian president is also expected to address the European Parliament.
Will he get more pledges of weapons?
It’s unlikely that any concrete proposals will be made as Kyiv has only recently secured pledges around the delivery of heavy tanks and longer-range missiles.
But it will be a rare opportunity to make his case in person on what is only his second trip outside of Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion almost one year ago.
What happened yesterday?
After a day in London meeting with the British prime minister and King Charles III, and addressing parliament, Zelensky managed to squeeze in a late night dinner with Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron pledged that France would help Ukraine to victory in fighting the Russian invasion and would press on with efforts to deliver arms.
France is “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights,” he said.
He added: “Ukraine can count on France, its European partners and its allies to win the war. Russia cannot and must not prevail.”
Scholz said Germany and its partners had backed Ukraine “financially, with humanitarian aid and with weapons,” adding: “We will continue to do so as long as necessary.”
What came out of the trip to the U.K.?
Earlier in the day, Britain said it would consider the proposal for combat aircraft in the “long term,” although the U.S. and other NATO allies remain wary of getting more embroiled in the conflict for fear of provoking Russia.
Britain has offered to train Ukrainian fighter pilots on top of an existing program that has already prepared 10,000 troops for battle.
Zelensky – dressed in his usual green fatigues – received waves of applause as he made a historic address to both the lower and upper houses of the British parliament.
“I appeal to you and the world... Combat aircrafts for Ukraine. Wings for freedom,” he said.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said he had tasked the defense secretary with “investigating what jets we might be able to give but, to be clear, this is a long-term solution rather than a short-term capability.”
Speaking alongside Zelensky in front of a British tank, Sunak said that “nothing is off the table” for Ukraine – including fighter-combat aircraft.
“Of course they are part of the conversation,” he said. Nevertheless, he held back from giving a concrete commitment to provide fighter planes.
Zelensky said that fighter jets had been discussed and reiterated his call for longer-range missiles.
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