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Zelensky visits Britain amid U.K. pledge to train fighter pilots


LONDON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the British Parliament on Wednesday and meet King Charles III at Buckingham Palace in what is only his second trip abroad since the Russian invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago.

Such is the security operation around these trips that Downing Street announced his visit only a few hours before the aircraft carrying Zelensky arrived at London’s Stansted Airport — a moment broadcast live on the BBC.

Zelensky may also visit Brussels on Thursday, according to various media outlets. His first international trip was in December, when he traveled to Washington to address a joint session of Congress and rally for continued American support.

Britain sees itself as playing a leading role on Ukraine, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, like his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, is an outspoken supporter. On Wednesday, Sunak pledged further military support, including the training of Ukrainian fighter pilots. That is still short of the requests from Zelensky for actual fighter jets.

Zelensky receives standing ovation, calls for more support in address to U.K. Parliament via video

After the United States, Britain is the largest donor of military assistance to Ukraine. According to a recent parliamentary briefing paper, it has committed $2.8 billion in military assistance so far and has pledged to match that in 2023.

The U.K. is also leading on Operation Interflex, an initiative with other allies that brings Ukrainian troops to Britain for training.

“As part of today’s talks, the Prime Minister will offer to bolster the U.K.’s training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future,” Downing Street said in a statement.

Although this is the first time the Ukrainian leader will address the British Parliament in person, he did speak to lawmakers last year via video and received a standing ovation.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said Charles will hold an audience with Zelensky there in the afternoon.

Zelensky will also talk with Sunak as well as the defense and security chiefs as part of a visit that the prime minister described as “testament to the unbreakable friendship” between the countries.

“Since 2014, the U.K. has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory,” Sunak said.

Downing Street also said that Britain will announce further sanctions on Wednesday that will target “those who have helped [Russian President Vladimir] Putin build his personal wealth, and companies who are profiting from the Kremlin’s war machine.”

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.