Move faster to help Ukraine, Rishi Sunak to urge allies

Move faster to help Ukraine, Rishi Sunak to urge allies
  • Written by James Gregory and Paul Seddon
  • BBC News

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WATCH: Sentimental Dame Helen Mirren weeps as she recites an ode to Ukraine

Rishi Sunak is set to urge allies to “move faster” in arming Ukraine, during a G7 meeting to commemorate the Russian invasion.

During a video call on Friday, the prime minister will say that giving Ukraine a “decisive” advantage in the conflict “must be our top priority now.”

The call will take place on a day of events in the UK, including a minute’s silence at 11:00 GMT.

A vigil in London on Thursday caused actress Dame Helen Mirren to cry.

Lady Helen became emotional while reading an English translation of Take Only What Matters Most, written by Ukrainian poet Serhiy Zahadan.

On the other hand, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called the Ukrainian soldiers “the bravest of the brave” while addressing the crowd in Trafalgar Square.

A section of Bayswater Road in central London – which leads to the embassy – will be permanently renamed Kiev Road by Westminster Council as another symbolic gesture highlighting the UK’s support.

Sunak will host Ukrainian forces at a Downing Street rally later.

Other British political leaders will also mark the occasion, with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer calling on the UK to “double up” its support for Ukraine.

The conflict, which began when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year, has seen at least 100,000 soldiers killed or wounded on each side, according to the US military.

Thousands of civilians have also been killed, and more than 13 million people have become refugees abroad or displaced within Ukraine.

Rita and her four children were among those who fled the country in the early stages of the conflict. They now live in the UK with Rita’s British partner, Andy.

Rita told BBC2’s Newsnight that she would “never forget” the “terrible sound, panic and fear” when Russian forces invaded.

Rita said her heart was “aching” after seeing how parts of Ukraine had changed after 12 months of conflict.

“The country is in pain,” she said. “I know how my country is and how it can be, I know how beautiful it is. Now it’s different [but] He can go back to that sweet place.

“I can see summer time—it will be warm, it will be green. This is how I see Ukraine—with lots of green trees with lots of flowers…with lots of smiles on people’s faces and tears of happiness.”

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Rita has returned to Ukraine since settling in the UK

Ukraine is urging its Western backers to step up support, as Russia rallies ahead of its expected spring offensive.

During the virtual meeting of G7 leaders, Sunak is expected to say that an acceleration of subsidies is “what it takes to change Putin’s mentality”.

“This should be our priority now,” he adds. “Instead of taking an incremental approach, we need to move faster in artillery, armor and air defence.”

He is expected to make the case for supplying Ukraine with “long-range weapons” to disable Russia’s ability to target Ukraine’s infrastructure, something the UK committed to earlier this month.

  • The United Nations General Assembly in New York overwhelmingly supported a resolution condemning the Russian invasion. 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, with 32 abstentions, and seven countries – including Russia – voted against.
  • In Vienna, a large number of delegates walked out during a Russian speech at a parliamentary session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – the security body of the 57 participating countries.

During a recent tour of Europe, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky increased his calls for Western countries to supply his country with modern combat aircraft.

The UK begins training Ukrainian forces to fly jet aircraft to NATO standards. But like other Western countries, it has not yet provided it with aircraft, saying it is still a long-term option.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was in office when Russia invaded and was among those urging faster action on the planes, used the anniversary to reiterate his call for President Zelensky to be given weapons to “finish the job”.

“Last year we learned that sooner or later the West gives Ukrainians what they need,” he said in a statement issued to reporters.

“And if that is the option – sooner or later – let’s do it sooner, for the sake of Ukraine and the world.”

image source, Getty Images

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Rishi Sunak hosted Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine during his trip to London earlier this month

As he marked the anniversary, Sir Keir said the British parties should carry on the unity they had shown during the war so far in the coming months.

He said that “the determination and courage of the Ukrainian people, supported by their allies around the world, doomed Putin’s barbaric invasion to failure.”

“We must be inspired by their courage and resolve to redouble our support for them,” he said.

“Their struggle for democracy, freedom and freedom in the face of tyranny is also our struggle.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey hailed Ukraine’s “incredible heroism” and said the UK would “stand in solidarity with Ukraine until victory”.

In a message to Ukrainians in Scotland marking the anniversary, Scottish National Party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hoped for a “quick victory for Ukraine”.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said Russia “must be able to restore security without being allowed to repeat its aggression” when a peace settlement is reached.

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