Ukraine, Britain announce security agreement during Kyiv visit by PM Sunak

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have signed a security agreement during the British leader’s visit to Kyiv, where he is expected to announce a new support package for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said on Friday that the accord would remain in effect until Ukraine joined the NATO military alliance and described it as an “unprecedented security agreement”.

“This is not simply a declaration. This is a reality that will come to fruition as a result of our cooperation, including security commitments from a major global power, the United Kingdom. If the UK and other countries had provided such a level of guarantees after 1991, there would have been no Russian aggression at all,” he wrote on the social media platform X.

Zelenskyy added that the common goal was to ensure that an attack on Ukraine “will never happen again” once the war ends.

During a press conference with Zelenskyy, British prime minister Sunak urged his Western allies to maintain their support for Ukraine and warned that a Russian victory would encourage other authoritarian countries.

“If (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop there, and our opponents around the world believe that we have neither the patience nor resources for long wars, so waver now and we embolden not just Putin but his allies in North Korea, Iran and elsewhere,” Sunak said.

Zelenskyy also told reporters that Ukraine was more positive now than in December about securing aid from the United States.

But during his visit to Kyiv, Sunak is expected to reveal that military funding for Ukraine for the next financial year will be 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2bn), according to a statement from his office. The funding would cover long-range missiles, air defence, artillery ammunition and maritime security.

“I am here today with one message: the UK will also not falter,” Sunak said on Friday.

“We will stand with Ukraine, in their darkest hours and in the better times to come,” he added in his initial remarks after his arrival in the capital.

Ahead of his visit, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also warned any move by Britain to deploy troops to Ukraine would be a “declaration of war against our country”.

Sunak first visited Ukraine in November 2022, soon after he became prime minister. Britain has been one of Ukraine’s most vocal backers.

Britain is the second-biggest donor of military aid to Ukraine after the United States, giving a total of 4.6 billion pounds ($3.3bn) in 2022 and 2023.

Both Ukraine and Russia are scrambling to replenish their weapons after 22 months of fighting and the potential for a protracted conflict. The roughly 1,500km (930-mile) front line has been largely static during winter, and both warring sides require artillery shells, missiles and drones that enable long-range strikes.

Kyiv says Moscow is receiving artillery shells and missiles from North Korea and drones from Iran. On January 4, the White House cited US intelligence officials as saying that Russia acquired ballistic missiles from North Korea and is seeking them from Iran.

Kyiv seeks more military aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pushing his country’s Western allies to provide Ukraine with more support on top of the billions of dollars in military aid it has already received.

This week he visited three small Baltic countries – Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia – to rally support against Russia and in search of new pledges. The Eastern European countries, which are also among Kyiv’s staunchest supporters, promised more missiles, drones, howitzers and artillery shells.

Zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine particularly needs air defence systems to fend off recent Russian aerial barrages – more than 500 drones and missiles were fired between December 29 and January 2, according to officials in Kyiv.

Russia’s recent attacks are using up Ukraine’s air defence resources and leaving it vulnerable.

Sunak said that the UK recognises that Ukrainian security “is our security”.

“Today we are going further – increasing our military aid, delivering thousands of cutting-edge drones, and signing a historic new security agreement to provide Ukraine with the assurances it needs for the long term,” he said.

The Western support for Ukraine’s war effort is sputtering.

A plan by the administration of US President Joe Biden to send $60bn in new funding to Kyiv is being held up in Congress.

Europe’s pledge in March to provide one million artillery shells within 12 months has also fallen short, with only about 300,000 delivered by the end of last year.

Source: Thanks