Why Is Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy Visiting The UK Again?

It's the Ukrainian president's third trip to the UK since the Russian invasion.
Rishi Sunak greeting Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he touches down in the UK
Rishi Sunak greeting Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he touches down in the UK
No10 Downing Street

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has just touched down in the the UK today for a surprise trip to meet with prime minister Rishi Sunak.

This is Zelenskyy’s third trip to the UK since Russia’s invasion back in February 2022. His last visit, three months ago, saw him meet the PM and King Charles.

On Monday morning, the Ukrainian president tweeted: “Today – London.

“The UK is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air.

“This cooperation will continue today. I will meet my friend Rishi.

“We will conduct substantive negotiations face-to-face and in delegations.”

Why is the Ukrainian president visiting the UK?

Zelenskyy has been touring the European capitals recently to drum up more support from Ukrainian allies as it prepares for a counteroffensive in the war against Russia.

The Ukrainian president explained last week that this highly-anticipated attack had not yet happened because his forces still need more support from the West.

Zelenskyy told public service broadcasters who are members of Eurovision News: “Mentally, we’re ready. In terms of how motivated we are, we’re ready. In terms of enough personnel in our brigades, we’re ready. In terms of equipment – not everything has arrived.”

Sunak is expected to confirm that the UK will send hundreds of air defence missiles and unmanned aerial systems including long-range attack drones reaching over 200km.

The PM is expected to ask Zelenskyy what Ukraine needs in terms of both immediate military support and long-term defences.

Ukraine is now calling on the West to offer up heavier weaponry and fighter jets to help liberate Russian-occupied land in the east.

While the country still has firm support from its allies, the West has been careful in what it can offer because it wants to avoid being drawn into direct conflict with Russia.

What did Sunak say about Zelenskyy’s trip?

According to No.10, Sunak said: “This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke.
“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 Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine but the fault lines stretch all over the world. It is in all our interest to ensure Ukraine succeeds and Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded.
“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.”

Where else in Europe has Zelenskyy been?

Over the weekend, the Ukrainian president went to Paris to visit French president Emmanuel Macron, and he ended up promising more military support to Ukraine.

France vowed to “train and equip” several Ukrainian battalions and provide “tens of armoured vehicles and light tanks”.

When he arrived in France, Zelenskyy said: “With each visit, the defensive and offensive capabilities of Ukraine increase.”

He added: “The connection with Europe is getting stronger, and the pressure on Russia is increasing. I will meet my friend Emmanuel. Let’s discuss the most important points of bilateral relations.”

Zelenskyy also went to Germany, where he met with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, and German chancellor Olaf Scholz. His trip occurred a day after the German government announced €2.7 billion (£2.35 billion) more in support for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said at a press conference with his Germany counterpart: “Now is the time for us to determine the end of the war already this year, we can make the aggressor’s defeat irreversible already this year,”

In the last week the Ukrainian president has visited Rome too, where he met with Pope Francis and Italian premier Giorgia Meloni – he thanked Rome for “helping to save lives” by still sending aid.

What has the UK done lately for Ukraine?

The UK did confirm last Thursday that it would send Ukraine long-range missiles to help it fight the Russian invasion, the first of its kind in Ukraine’s arsenal.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace described it as a “calibrated and proportionate response to Russia’s escalations”.

However, a spokesperson for Russian president Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, warned that this move would “demand an adequate response from our military, which will, naturally, from a military point of view, find corresponding solutions.”

He did not offer up any more details about what this response might be.

Sunak is set to announce more military aid at this week’s Council of Europe and G7 Summits.

The UK has trained 15,000 Ukrainian troops over the last year, and provided £2.3 billion worth of military support.

The UK also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest on Ukraine’s behalf over the weekend, although Zelenskyy was not permitted to make an address during the competition over fears it would be too political.


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