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Latest in Ukraine: Britain Sending Hundreds More Missiles, Long-range Drones to Ukraine

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Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, walk in the garden at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, in Aylesbury, England, May 15, 2023.

New developments:

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Britain is his fourth stop in Western allied countries in recent days as he looks to shore up military support
  • China says top envoy to visit Ukraine, Russia, Poland, France and Germany in push for “political settlement” to Ukraine conflict.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people are fighting for European freedom and values. Awarding the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen, von der Leyen said the EU is sending the clear message of standing with Ukraine.

Britain said Monday it is sending Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in hopes of boosting Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s 14-month invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a staunch ally, for the new weaponry as they met at Chequers, Sunak’s official country retreat.

Zelenskyy characterized the war effort as a matter of “security not only for Ukraine, it is important for all of Europe.”

Sunak told Zelenskyy that “your leadership, your country’s bravery and fortitude are an inspiration to us all.”

WATCH: Zelenskyy Visits Germany After Country Pledges Largest Yet Aid Package

Zelenskyy’s visit to Britain was his fourth stop in Western allied countries in recent days as he looks to shore up military support ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Moscow’s forces to try to retake regions of eastern Ukraine that Russia continues to hold. He had earlier stopped in Italy, Germany and France to meet with their leaders.

“The [United Kingdom] is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air,” Zelenskyy tweeted ahead of his meeting with Sunak. The British leader called the impending fighting “a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war.”

The Kremlin said it views more British aid to Ukraine “extremely negatively,” but spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not believe the new weaponry would drastically change the course of the war.

“Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine,” Peskov said. “We repeat once again — it cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation [in Ukraine] is unfolding. But definitely, it leads to further destruction, further action. … It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated.”

Along with the U.S. and other European countries, Britain has become one of Ukraine’s major military allies, sending Kyiv short-range missiles and Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil.

Last week, Britain announced it had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers — the first known shipment of the weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.

Sunak’s office said the newest shipment announced Monday would include more air defense missiles, as well as “long-range attack drones” with a range of more than 200 kilometers.

“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke,” Sunak said. “They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year. We must not let them down.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine needs to build a “fighter jet coalition” to provide it with vital air defenses. Sunak’s spokesman said no planes would be provided by Britain but that it would begin training Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as this summer.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said France would supply dozens of light tanks, armored vehicles and more air defense systems “in the weeks ahead,” without giving specific numbers. France is also aiming to train 2,000 Ukrainian troops in France and nearly 4,000 others in Poland this year.

Germany announced a $3 billion aid package for Ukraine, its biggest since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

“Now is the time for us to determine the end of the war already this year, we can make the aggressor’s defeat irreversible already this year,” Zelenskyy said Sunday during a joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

On the battlefield, Zelenskyy said new Russian shelling had killed nine civilians and injured 19 in the past day. Six of the deaths were in the Kherson region. Two civilians were killed in Chuhuiv in the Kharkiv region and one in Primorsk, which is on the Azov Sea coast about 20 kilometers from Russian-occupied Berdyansk.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, VOA, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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