Rishi Sunak urges allies to move fast to help Ukraine

  • By James Gregory & Paul Seddon
  • BBC News

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WATCH: Passionate Helen Mirren Reads Poetry for Ukraine

Rishi Sunak is set to urge allies to “move fast” on arming Ukraine during a G7 meeting to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

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

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

A vigil in London on Thursday brought actress Dame Helen Mirren to tears.

Dame Helen became emotional as she read the English translation of Take Only What Is Most Important by Ukrainian poet Serhii Shaton.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square, described Ukrainian soldiers as “the bravest of the brave”.

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

Mr Sunak will later host Ukrainian troops at a meeting in Downing Street.

Other British political leaders will also note the event, with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer calling on the UK to “double down” on support for Ukraine.

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

Thousands of civilians have also been killed, and more than 13 million people have been made 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 England with Rita’s British partner Andy.

Rita told BBC Two’s Newsnight that she would “never forget” the “horrible sound, that panic, that fear” when Russian troops invaded.

Rita said her heart “aches” after witnessing how parts of Ukraine have changed since 12 months of conflict.

“The country is in agony,” he said. “I know what my country is like and how it can be, I know how beautiful it is. Now it’s different [but] It may return to that beautiful place.

“I can see summer – it’s getting hot, it’s green. That’s how I see Ukraine – lots of green trees with lots of flowers … with lots of smiles and tears of joy on people’s faces.”

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After settling in England, Rita has returned to Ukraine

Ukraine has been urging its Western backers to step up support, as Russia mobilizes ahead of an expected spring offensive.

During a virtual meeting of the leaders of the G7 group of advanced economies, Mr Sunak is expected to say an acceleration in support would “take what it takes to change Putin’s mindset”.

“This has to be our priority now,” he adds. “Instead of an incremental approach, we need to go faster with artillery, armor and air defense.”

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

  • The UN General Assembly in New York overwhelmingly supported a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion. 141 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 32 abstained, and seven countries, including Russia, voted against.
  • In Vienna, scores of delegates walked out during a Russian speech at a parliamentary session of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a 57-nation security body.

During a recent European tour, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stepped up his calls for the West to supply his country with modern fighter jets.

UK to train Ukrainian forces to fly Nato-standard jets But unlike other Western countries, it has yet to offer jets, suggesting it remains a long-term option.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, who was in office when Russia invaded and has been among those pushing for swift action on the jets, used the anniversary to repeat his call to arm President Zelensky to “finish the job”.

“The past year has taught us that sooner or later, the West gives Ukrainians what they need,” he said in a statement to journalists.

“If that’s the choice – sooner or later – let’s do it sooner rather than later for Ukraine and the world.”

image source, Good pictures

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Rishi Sunak hosted Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyi during his visit to London earlier this month.

As he marked the anniversary, Sir Keir said UK parties must continue in the coming months to show the unity they have shown during the war so far.

“The determination and courage of the Ukrainian people, with the support of their allies around the world, have defeated Putin’s barbaric invasion,” he said.

“We must take inspiration from their courage and resolve to redouble our support for them.

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

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davy paid tribute to the “fantastic acts of heroism in Ukraine” and said the UK would “stand united until Ukraine achieves victory”.

In a letter to Ukrainians in Scotland to mark the anniversary, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wished “speedy success to Ukraine”.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said that while a peace settlement is reached, Russia “must be safe from allowing its aggression to repeat itself”.

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