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The UK pledges attack drones and more missiles to Ukraine, but no jets

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy leaves after meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, Saturday, May 13, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy leaves after meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, Saturday, May 13, 2023. Copyright Gregorio Borgia/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Gregorio Borgia/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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On his European tour aimed at drumming up more military support for his country, President Zelenskyy also obtained aid from France and Germany, but no planes.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has secured a commitment for attack drones and hundreds more missiles from the British government at the end of his world wind European tour.

It was Zelenskyy’s second trip to the UK since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the fifth European country Zelenskyy has visited in three days.

He is seeking more military aid as Ukraine prepares a long-anticipated spring offensive to retake Russian-occupied territory. The Ukrainian leader also visited Italy, the Vatican, Germany, and France.

Russia reacted to the UK’s new pledge “extremely negatively,” but also doubts the missiles and drones would drastically change the course of the war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

“Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Peskov said.

“We repeat once again: It cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation (in Ukraine) is unfolding. But, definitely, it leads to further destruction. It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated.”

Zelenskyy said one of the missions of his European travels that started Saturday was to build a “fighter jet coalition” to provide Ukraine with vital military power in the air. He said more work was needed on that front.

While the UK will not provide the planes, the prime minister said the country would join the coalition and begin a previously announced training program for Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as this summer.

The UK, one of Ukraine’s major military allies, has provided short-range missiles, Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil.

Last week, the government announced it had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 km. The British missiles were the first known shipment of longer-range weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.

Sunak’s office said it was giving Ukraine hundreds more air defence missiles, as well as “long-range attack drones” with a reach of more than 200 km.

Sunak plans to push allies at a meeting of Group of Seven leaders in Japan later this week to deliver more support to Ukraine, Downing Street said.

The White House's National security spokesperson has warned that Iran and Russia are expanding their unprecedented defence partnership.

 He said Iran remains Russia's top military backer and has provided Russia with artillery and tank rounds for use in Ukraine.

France and Germany follow the UK

Zelenskyy travelled to Britain from Paris, where he met on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron and secured a pledge of light tanks, armoured vehicles and air defence systems.

About 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers would receive training in France this year and nearly 4,000 others in Poland, Macron’s office said.

Speaking Monday on French television, Macron said training on French fighter jets such as the Mirage 2000 “can start now” but rejected the idea of France delivering warplanes to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy also met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday.

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It was his first visit to Berlin since the start of the invasion, and came a day after the German government announced military aid for Ukraine worth more than €2.7 billion.

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