The UK will provide Ukraine with air defence missiles and attack drones, Downing Street has announced, as Volodymyr Zelensky met Rishi Sunak at Chequers.
In the latest leg of the Ukrainian president’s tour of western allies, Mr Zelensky said the two leaders had also discussed western fighter jets and he anticipated “very important decisions” to be made soon.
No 10 said Britain will send hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems to the war-torn country as the Prime Minister met the president at Chequers on Monday.
Following the meeting, the president 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.”
The Prime Minister stressed that the provision of warplanes was “not a straightforward thing” but said the UK was committed to training Ukrainian pilots using Nato-standard aircraft.
No 10 said an elementary flying phase for cohorts of Ukrainian pilots will begin this summer, going hand in hand with British efforts to work with other countries on providing F-16 jets.
“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 frontlines of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine but the fault lines stretch all over the world.
“That is why the UK is sustaining our support to Ukraine, from tanks to training, ammunition to armoured vehicles.
“And this message of solidarity will ring loud in all my meetings with fellow world leaders in the days ahead.”
At the start of the meeting, Mr Zelensky thanked the UK Government, the King and the British people for their support.
“We are thankful from all our hearts, from Ukrainians, from our soldiers, we are thankful,” he said.
The president said his talks with the Prime Minister would cover “very important issues, urgent support for Ukraine”.
The visit comes days after Liverpool hosted Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine.
The new equipment will be delivered over the coming months.
The UK has also recently promised long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Kyiv after continued Russian attacks.
The meeting between the two leaders comes at the start of a week of intense diplomatic activity on the Ukraine crisis.
A Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister had promised the president he would use the engagements later in the week “to stress the importance of sustaining global support for Ukraine at this pivotal time”.
The Kremlin criticised the latest announcement of military aid for Ukraine, but claimed the weapons would make little difference on the battlefield.
“Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“We repeat once again, it cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation is unfolding.”
The Russian Embassy in the UK claimed the long-range weapons would be used to “sow death, destruction and terror among the civilian population” in areas of Ukraine under the Kremlin’s control.
Downing Street insisted the weapons would be used only within Ukraine’s sovereign territory rather than being targeted at sites within Russia.
“Our support has always been on the condition that it is used to defend Ukrainian sovereignty. That is no different with these drones,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.