Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is believed to have touched down in Britain as he makes a surprise visit to London on Wednesday, at a time when Kyiv is urging the West to send more weapons and military support to counter Russian advances.
A UK Royal Air Force C-17 transport airplane believed to be carrying Zelensky landed at Stansted Airport, north of London.
Zelensky will meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak along with Ukrainian troops being trained by British forces, and address Parliament, UK officials said.
The president’s visit to London is only his second outside his country since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago, following his visit to Washington DC in December.
The trip comes as Zelensky has been desperately seeking military aid from Western allies as Ukrainian officials warn Moscow is gearing up for a spring offensive.
Britain announced Wednesday it would send more military equipment to Kyiv to help counter a possible Russian spring offensive. Sunak said the UK would expand training to Ukrainian fighter pilots and marines, while also promising a long-term investment in Ukraine’s military.
The UK will begin training Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard fighter jets, in what CNN understands would be the first official training program for Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter aircraft. There was however no mention of providing Ukraine with Western fighter aircraft that Zelensky has been calling for.
The UK also said it will provide Ukraine with “longer range capabilities,” without going into details.
“The Prime Minister will also offer to provide Ukraine with longer range capabilities,” a Downing Street statement read. “This will disrupt Russia’s ability to continually target Ukraine’s civilian and critical national infrastructure and help relieve pressure on Ukraine’s frontlines.”
BDST: 1644 HRS, FEB 08, 2023