President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky paid a working visit to Great Britain. This is the second foreign trip of the Head of State since the beginning of the full-scale military invasion on 24 February 2022. The first visit was made to Washington last December.
Ukraine needs a lot of equipment and weapons not to be in anticipation of a Russian offensive but to make Russia expect the offensive of Ukrainian troops and wonder about how to get out of the territory of our country.
“As for when to expect an offensive, we are living in a state of war, and to think about when an offensive will begin… Has it ever stopped? It was just of a different intensity. Let’s make the Russians sit and wonder when the Ukrainian offensive will begin and how they will get out of our territory,” Volodymyr Zelensky said during a meeting with media representatives at the Bovington Camp military base following the negotiations with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Answering journalists’ questions about what equipment and weapons Ukraine needs today, the President emphasised that the needs depend on both the situation on the battlefield in specific directions and what is happening inside our country. Zelensky noted that the enemy has thousands of armoured vehicles, albeit Soviet-made.
“Of course, modern Western-type equipment under NATO standards is better. But you can have ten of the world’s best tanks, and you will be facing thousands of Soviet-made tanks. Then you stand no chance. And we do not agree to such an outcome, because we have no choice. This is our land, and we will definitely win. Therefore, tanks, armored vehicles, fighter jets – we have devoted a lot of time to them today, and an important first step has been taken,” Zelensky said.
The President underscored that long-range weapons are a priority, and he is very happy that the UK heard Ukraine’s needs.
“I would really like other countries to hear us as well. This allows us to push the enemy back and ensure life even in the cities we have de-occupied. So that people could just live there,” he explained.
The Head of State also noted that Ukraine is fighting against hundreds of Iranian drones, various missiles, including ballistic missiles, which hit the power grid and civilian facilities.
“That is why we need air defence systems. We are grateful to our partners who provide these systems. This allows people to work and pay taxes. These funds are used for social services, pensions, salaries for teachers and doctors, as well as salaries for the military,” the President said.
Regarding the issue of providing Ukraine with fighter jets, Zelensky noted that during the negotiations he heard a signal from the British Prime Minister that they could be provided.
“Today, I heard the Prime Minister’s willingness to provide us with aircraft. The first step – Mr. Prime Minister officially said – is that we can start training our pilots,” the Head of State noted.
At the same time, he noted that not everything in this matter depends on the will of the UK.
For his part, Rishi Sunak emphasised that his country is aware of Ukraine’s needs and is one of the leaders in providing assistance. He noted that Challenger tanks will be at the front in a few weeks, and the British side is doing everything possible to prepare the Ukrainian military for their use as soon as possible.
According to the Prime Minister, the transfer of fighter jets was also discussed during the talks with the President of Ukraine.
“We are ready to provide everything, but first we need pilots who are ready to operate such sophisticated weapons. Because when it comes to brand-new fighter jets, it takes three years to train pilots. Ukraine already has fighter pilots, but they still need to be trained. This is what we discussed with Mr. President today,” Rishi Sunak said, adding that the issue of transferring aircraft to Ukraine is also being discussed with allies.
Moreover, Ukraine’s leader met with King Charles III of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is worth noting that Volodymyr Zelensky became the first president of Ukraine to be honored by the British monarch with an audience. Their meeting took place at Buckingham Palace.