Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (C) meet Ukrainian troops being trained to command Challenger 2 tanks at a military facility in Lulworth, Dorset in southern England on February 8, 2023. – Zelensky used a visit to London to urge allies to send combat aircraft to his war-torn country, which Britain said it would consider in the “long term”. (Photo by Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Wednesday “nothing is off the table” in terms of military aid for Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelensky stepped up his demands for help ahead of talks with EU leaders.
Fighter jets for Ukraine were “part of the conversation”, Sunak told a joint news conference with Zelensky, who confirmed he would be joining an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.
After talks in London and a landmark speech by Zelensky to the UK parliament, the two leaders inspected Ukrainian soldiers undergoing training in southwest England to operate British Challenger 2 tanks.
Thanking Sunak for the UK help, Zelensky appealed also for long-range missiles ahead of the EU summit.
He said that unless Ukraine gets fighter jets, or more missiles and more ammunition, “there will be stagnation”.
“These people (Russians) will come and be living on our territory, and this will pose great risks for all of the world,” Zelensky said through a translator.
Sunak on Wednesday offered to train Ukrainian fighter pilots and marines, on top of an existing UK programme that has prepared 10,000 troops for battle.
But he indicated that the pilot training programme could take three years, and noted that Britain would need clearance from its allies to offer joint-production planes such as the Typhoon.
Smiling, Zelensky retorted that any Ukrainian pilots sent West would already have “trained for two-and-a-half years”.