AP (NEW)

Zelenskyy seeks weaponry in surprise trips to London, Paris

Feb 8, 2023, 9:41 AM | Updated: 3:50 pm

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in...

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

PARIS (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sought Western support for his country in surprise visits to Britain and France on Wednesday, pushing for fighter jets to battle Russian invaders in a dramatic speech to the U.K. Parliament, and then flying to Paris to meet the French and German leaders over dinner at the Elysee Palace.

On Thursday, Zelenskyy will join EU leaders at a summit in Brussels, which German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described as a “signal of European solidarity and community.”

Zelenskyy’s European tour and pleas for more advanced weapons came as Ukraine braces for an expected Russian offensive and hatches its own plans to retake land held by Moscow’s forces. Western support has been key to Kyiv’s surprisingly stiff defense, and the two sides are engaged in grinding battles.

Zelenskyy thanked the British people for their support since “Day One” of Moscow’s invasion nearly a year ago, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said fighter jets were “part of the conversation” about aid to Ukraine.

“Nothing is off the table,” he said at an evening news conference at a British army base. “We must arm Ukraine in the short term, but we must bolster Ukraine for the long term.”

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

“Without this, there would be stagnation which will not bring to anything good,” he said, calling his visit to Britain “very fruitful.”

Then it was off to Paris for dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and Scholz, the German chancellor.

Zelenskyy was greeted Wednesday night on the steps of the Elysee Palace with a friendly embrace by Macron, and then all three leaders headed inside. The visit marks a turnaround in Zelenskyy’s relations toward France and Germany, which earlier in the war were viewed by many in Ukraine as not doing enough to help.

“Ukraine can count on France, its European partners and allies to win the war. Russia cannot and must not win,” Macron said before their working dinner. Macron’s office put out a statement confirming that Zelenskyy would attend Thursday’s summit in Brussels, where EU leaders will pledge their support for the Ukrainian people.

Zelenskyy’s travel to European capitals on Wednesday was just his second foreign trip since Russia invaded on Feb, 24, 2022. In December, he traveled to Washington to meet with President Joe Biden and address the U.S. Congress.

His day began when he arrived on a Royal Air Force plane in London and was greeted on the tarmac with an embrace from Sunak. They held talks at the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. residence before Zelenskyy’s speech to lawmakers in the 900-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest — and, on a cold winter day, unheated — part of Parliament.

“London has stood with Kyiv since Day One,” he said, repeatedly thanking Britons for their aid. The U.K. has sent Ukraine more than 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion) in weapons and equipment,

Wearing his trademark olive drab sweatshirt, he urged allies to deliver jets to Ukraine, saying combat aircraft would be “wings for freedom.”

In a dramatic gesture, Zelenskyy presented the speaker of the House of Commons with a Ukrainian air force helmet, inscribed by a Ukrainian pilot: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”

The president was trying to soften allies’ reluctance to send advanced fighter jets, both because they are complex to fly and for fear of escalating the war.

The U.K. has repeatedly said it’s not practical to provide Ukraine with British warplanes. But in a shift, the government said Wednesday it was “actively looking” at whether Ukraine could be sent Western jets, and was “in discussion with our allies” about it.

Britain also said it would train Ukrainian pilots in Britain on “NATO-standard fighter jets” within weeks.

Sunak spokesman Max Blain said the government was exploring “what jets we may be able to give” over the coming years, but had not made a decision on whether to send its F-35 or Typhoons.

“We think it is right to provide both short-term equipment … that can help win the war now, but also look to the medium to long term to make sure Ukraine has every possible capacity it requires,” he said.

Ukraine has sought Western fighter jets since early in the war to bolster its force of Soviet-made MiG-29 and Su fighters. The success of its air force in defending its skies and territory despite Russia’s bigger numbers helped push back Moscow’s initial assault.

The Russian Embassy in London strongly warned the U.K. against supplying the warplanes, saying Britain would bear responsibility “for another twist of escalation and the ensuing military-political consequences for the European continent and the entire world.”

Macron has said France hasn’t ruled out sending fighter jets but set conditions, including not leading to an escalation of tensions or using the aircraft “to touch Russian soil,” and not resulting in weakening “the capacities of the French army.”

Sunak and Zelenskyy flew by helicopter to Lulworth Camp, a base in southwest England, where they met Ukrainian troops being trained on the Challenger 2 tanks the U.K. is sending as part of the hundreds that Kyiv says it needs. More than 10,000 Ukrainian troops have been trained in the U.K., and Britain says it will train 20,000 more in 2023.

“I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future,” Sunak said.

Zelenskyy also went to Buckingham Palace, where he met with King Charles III, who greeted him with a broad smile and a warm handshake before they had tea. The king told the president that “we’ve all been worried about you and thinking about your country for so long.”

In his Parliament speech, Zelenskyy noted that Charles was a qualified military pilot.

“The king is an air force pilot,” Zekenskyy said, and “in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.”

Zelenskyy was greeted with applause, cheers and cries of “Slava Ukraini” — “Glory to Ukraine” — as he arrived in Parliament, where his cause has wide support.

He had addressed the U.K. Parliament remotel y in March, two weeks after the start of the invasion. He echoed World War II leader Winston Churchill’s famous “never surrender” speech, vowing that Ukrainians “will fight till the end at sea, in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.”

On Wednesday, he recalled how on a prewar visit to London, he sat in Churchill’s chair in his subterranean wartime headquarters, and had a feeling that only now he understands: “It was the feeling of how bravery takes you through the most unimaginable hardships to finally reward you with victory.”

In past wars, “evil lost,” he told U.K. lawmakers. “We know Russia will lose and we we know victory will change the world.″

He also urged stronger sanctions against Moscow until “Russia is deprived of any possibility to finance this war.”

Coinciding with the visit, the U.K. government announced new sanctions against six entities that Britain said supplied equipment to the Russian military. CST, a manufacturer of Russian drones and parts for helicopters used against Ukraine, were among them.

The London visit came as Russian forces shelled areas of eastern Ukraine in what Kyiv authorities believe is part of a thrust by the Kremlin’s forces before the invasion anniversary. Moscow, meanwhile, believes Ukraine is preparing its own battlefield push.

___

Lawless reported from London. Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

KSL 5 TV Live

AP (New)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 photo, containers holding frozen embryos and sperm are stored ...

Associated Press

Facing backlash over IVF ruling, Alabama lawmakers look for a fix

Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused services in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law.

2 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Rochester...

Associated Press

UK judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit over dossier containing ‘shocking and scandalous claims’

A judge in London on Thursday threw out a lawsuit by former U.S. President Donald Trump accusing a former British spy of making “shocking and scandalous claims” that were false and harmed his reputation.

24 days ago

FILE - The FBI arrested three Florida residents on Saturday, the third anniversary of their alleged...

Associated Press

FBI arrests 3 in Florida on charges of assaulting officers in Jan. 6 insurrection

The FBI arrested three Florida residents on Saturday, the third anniversary of their alleged attack on Capitol police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

2 months ago

Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Hundreds of people charged with stormin...

Associated Press

To plead or not to plead? That is the question for hundreds of Capitol riot defendants

Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters charged with storming the U.S. Capitol have faced the same choice in the three years since the attack: either admit their guilt and accept the consequences or take their chances on a trial in hopes of securing a rare acquittal.

2 months ago

A police vehicle is parked on a road leading to the scene of a helicopter crash in Washington Towns...

Wayne Parry and Tassanee Vejpongsa

Philadelphia news helicopter crashes in New Jersey forest, killing pilot and photographer

Investigators were looking for evidence Wednesday of what caused a news helicopter to crash in the New Jersey Pinelands the night before, killing the pilot and photographer on board.

2 months ago

U.S. officials said Sunday two Navy SEALS missing for 10 days are dead.  (Photo Belinda Alker, Mini...

Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

US and Britain say their navies shot down 15 attack drones over the Red Sea

A U.S. warship shot down 14 suspected attack drones over the Red Sea on Saturday, and a Royal Navy destroyer downed another drone that was targeting commercial ships, the British and American militaries said.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Zelenskyy seeks weaponry in surprise trips to London, Paris