UK pledges hundreds of new attack drones to Ukraine ahead of Zelenskyy-Sunak summit

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  • May 15, 2023
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The UK has pledged to send hundreds of new long-range attack drones to Ukraine ahead of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s meeting with Rishi Sunak today.

The Ukrainian president will meet Mr Sunak at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, for “substantive negotiations” over military aid.

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The government said Mr Sunak will confirm today the further provision of hundreds of air defence missiles and further unmanned aerial systems, including hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of over 200km.

Mr Sunak said it was a “crucial moment” in Ukraine‘s resistance against Russia‘s invasion, adding: “We must not let them down.”

It comes as Mr Zelenskyy embarks on a multi-stop European tour for increased support from allies, as Kyiv prepares for its counteroffensive against Russian forces.

Mr Zelenskyy tweeted ahead of his arrival, describing the UK as a “leader” when it comes to Ukraine expanding its capabilities on the ground and in the air.

The UK government’s announcement of further military aid follows confirmation that it has donated long-range precision missiles to Ukraine’s military.

The government said the extra provisions to be confirmed later today will be delivered in the coming months.

On Saturday, the German government promised Kyiv its biggest military support package so far, with further arms deliveries worth €2.7bn (£2.35bn).

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France also pledged further military aid, as President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Zelenskyy met in a surprise summit in Paris on Sunday.

Mr Macron’s office said France will supply dozens of light tanks and armoured vehicles “in the weeks ahead”, without giving specific numbers.

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Britain has been one of the largest suppliers of military aid to Ukraine since February 2022’s invasion, contributing £2.3bn worth of support last year and pledging a similar amount for 2023.

Mr Sunak and Mr Zelenskyy last met in February, when the Ukrainian president made his first visit to the UK since Russia invaded his country.

Meanwhile, fierce fighting continues in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, inflicting heavy losses on both sides.

Neither Kyiv nor Moscow’s forces have been able to take full control of the city despite months of fighting, as analysis suggests the battle for the city is not about seizing ground but maximising enemy casualties.

Mr Zelenskyy has said his troops would not attack Russian territory as part of their counteroffensive.