Zelensky makes surprise trips to London and Paris in search of more advanced weapons

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to Britain and France on Wednesday to seek Western support for his country.

After giving a dramatic speech to the British Parliament calling for jet fighters to fight the Russian invaders, he flew to Paris and met the French and German leaders over dinner at the Elysée Palace.

As Ukraine prepares for an anticipated Russian offensive and develops its own plans to retake land held by Moscow forces, a difficult leader’s trip to Europe and demand for more advanced weaponry have been made.

Western support has been key to Kyiv’s surprisingly strong defenses, and the two sides are fighting hard.

Mr Zelensky thanked the British public for their support since the “first day” of the invasion of Moscow almost a year ago, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said fighter jets were “part of the conversation” on aid to Ukraine. bottom.

“Nothing,” he said at an evening press conference at a British Army base. “In the short term, we must arm Ukraine, but in the long term, we must strengthen it,” he said.

Zelensky said Ukraine needs all kinds of supplies, not just planes, but ammunition and long-range missiles.

He called his visit to England “a very fruitful one”.

We then headed to Paris to have dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Thibault Camus/AP)

Zelensky was greeted at Orly airport by French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

The president was then embraced by Mr Macron on the steps of the Élysée Palace, and all three leaders headed inside.

“Ukraine can count on France, its European partners and allies to win the war. Russia cannot and must not win,” Macron said before the dinner.

He said Ukraine’s “operational needs” would be discussed, adding that “we will pursue that effort.”

Volodymyr Zelensky and Emmanuel Macron shake hands (Thibault Camus/AP)

This visit marks a turnaround in Mr. Zelensky’s relations with France and Germany.

This trip was my second stay abroad since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022. After visiting Washington in December to meet President Joe Biden and address the U.S. Congress.

Zelensky is due to join EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on Thursday, which Scholz described as “a signal of European solidarity and community.”

His day began when he arrived in London on a Royal Air Force plane and was greeted with a hug from Mr. Sunak. They met at 10 Downing Street before Zelensky addressed politicians at Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament.

“London has supported Kyiv from day one,” he said, repeatedly thanking the British for their help.

Volodymyr Zelensky with French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu (Julien de Rosa, pool via AP)

Britain sent over £2 billion of arms and equipment to Ukraine.

Wearing his trademark sweatshirt, he said the fighter jets would be “wings of freedom” and urged allies to deliver jets to Ukraine.

In a dramatic gesture, he presented the Speaker of the House with a Ukrainian Air Force helmet engraved by a Ukrainian pilot. Give me wings to protect it. “

The president was trying to assuage allies’ reluctance to fly advanced fighter jets and fears of an escalating war.

Britain has repeatedly said that providing Ukraine with British fighter jets is not realistic. But the government said Wednesday it was “actively looking into” whether it would be possible to send Western jets to Ukraine and was “discussing with allies” about it.

Britain also said it would train Ukrainian pilots in “NATO standard fighter planes” in the UK in the coming weeks.

Lord Lindsay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, with helmet gifted by Volodymyr Zelensky (Stephen Rousseau, Pennsylvania)

The Russian embassy in London said Britain would be responsible for “the further twist of the escalation and its ensuing military-political repercussions on continental Europe and the world at large”, urging Britain to supply fighters. warned.

Macron has not ruled out the possibility of France sending fighter jets, but said it would not result in a weakening of “the ability of the French military” not to use aircraft to escalate tensions or “touch Russian soil”. He said that he had set conditions such as

Zelensky also went to Buckingham Palace, where he met with King Charles. The King greeted him with a big smile and a warm handshake before drinking tea. The king told the president, “We are all worried about you and have been thinking about your country for a long time.”

The visit to London came as Russian forces shelled areas in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv officials believe it was part of an attack by Kremlin forces before Invasion Day.

Moscow, meanwhile, believes Ukraine is preparing its own battlefield strike. Zelensky makes surprise trips to London and Paris in search of more advanced weapons

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