President Zelensky to visit the UK for the first time since Russian invasion - everything we know so far
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President Zelensky is set to visit the UK for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Ukraine’s leader will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and address Parliament this afternoon, Downing Street announced this morning.
Zelensky will also become the first foreign leader to speak to MPs in Westminster Hall since Burmese politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in 2012. Following the talk, the Ukrainian president will visit Ukrainian soldiers who are being trained by the British forces.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke on the president’s arrival: “President Zelensky’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.
“Since 2014 the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory.”
Buckingham Palace has also announced that the president will be hosted by King Charles III. Here’s everything we know so far about President Zelensky’s visit to the UK.
Why is President Zelensky visiting the UK?
With the UK playing a key role in supporting Ukraine’s effort to combat the Russian invasion, Zelensky is visiting the UK to speak with the Prime Minister about how this support can be extended or intensified. As part of their talk, Sunak will offer to escalate the UK’s training of Ukrainian troops which will now include fighter jet pilots as well.
Last month, President Zelensky urged the west to support Ukraine’s defence and send planes and long-range missiles. While the UK initially refused to send RAF’s F-35 and Typhoon jets due to an intensive and lengthy training programme, Sunak’s announcement may signal a change of heart.
Ukrainian troops are already being trained in the use of Challenger 2 tanks.
When is President Zelynsky visiting the UK?
Ukraine’s president will meet Rishi Sunak on the morning of Wednesday February 8, and is due to address Parliament at 1pm. Prior to this at midday, PMQs will be held in the House of Commons.
It is not yet known if President Zelensky’s address to Parliament will be televised. We will update this page with more details to come.