AP

UK PM Sunak makes surprise trip to Kyiv, boosts defense aid

Nov 19, 2022, 10:30 AM | Updated: Nov 20, 2022, 4:11 pm

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Ze...

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak observe destroyed Russian military vehicles installed in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised 125 anti-aircraft guns and other air-defense technology as he made an unannounced visit Saturday — his first — to Ukraine’s snow-blanketed capital for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The air-defense package, which Britain valued at 50 million pounds ($60 million), comes as Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other key infrastructure from the air, causing widespread blackouts for millions of Ukrainians amid frigid weather.

The package includes radar and other technology to counter the Iran-supplied exploding drones that Russia has used against Ukrainian targets. It comes on top of a delivery of more than 1,000 anti-air missiles that Britain announced earlier this month.

The U.K. has been one of the staunchest Western backers of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion. Speaking alongside Zelenskyy, Sunak noted that the U.K. has given 2.3 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) in military aid and pledged: “We will do the same again next year.”

“Your homes, your hospitals, your power stations are being destroyed,” Sunak said in announcing the new air-defense package. “You and your people are paying a heavy price in blood.”

Speaking through a translator, Zelenskyy said Russian strikes have damaged around half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

As snowflakes fell, Zelenskyy greeted Sunak at a presidential palace for their talks. He called the two countries “the strongest of allies.” Walking in the snow, they also inspected captured Russian tanks and other destroyed and rusting military hardware used by the invasion forces that are displayed in a Kyiv square.

“With friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory. Both of our nations know what it means to stand up for freedom,” the Ukrainian leader said on Twitter.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who stepped down in July, won wide praise in Ukraine for his backing. Sunak is keen to reassure Ukraine’s leaders that there will be no change of stance under his leadership, although when he was U.K. Treasury chief under Johnson he was considered resistant to demands for higher defense spending.

“The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak said. “In years to come, we will tell our grandchildren of your story.”

He pledged that Britain “will stand with you until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves and then we will stand with you as you rebuild your great country.”

Sunak also laid flowers at a memorial for the war dead, lit a candle at a memorial for victims of a deadly Soviet-era famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, and met first responders at a fire station, his office said.

Sunak’s visit came in the wake of a major recent battlefield success for Ukraine: the recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

The restoration of rail connections brought further joy Saturday to Kherson’s residents, who excitedly waited for the first train from Kyiv.

“This is the beginning of a new life,” said 74-year-old Ludmila Olhouskaya, who didn’t have anyone to meet off the train but went to the station to show support. “Or rather, the revival of a former one.”

On the battlefield, Russian forces launched 10 airstrikes, 10 missile strikes and 42 rocket attacks on Ukraine in the last day, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Saturday.

In Kherson, the major southern city that Ukrainian forces recaptured more than a week ago, two Russian missiles struck an oil depot — the first time a depot was hit in the city since the Russians withdrew, according to firefighters at the scene. AP reporters said a huge fire and billowing black smoke.

“There was a strong explosion,” said Valentyna Svyderska, who lives nearby. “We were scared, everyone was scared … Because this is an army that is at war with the civilian population.”

Local authorities were struggling to respond to the blaze, the firefighters said, because Russian forces took the city’s fire trucks and ambulances when they retreated.

Russia is pressing an offensive in the eastern Donetsk region, and Ukraine reported heavy fighting around the city of Bakhmut, the town of Avdiivka and the village of Novopavlivka.

Russian forces claimed to have repelled a Ukrainian counteroffensive to take back the settlements of Pershotravneve, Kyslivka and Krokhmalne in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv province.

Ukrainian forces said they killed or wounded scores of Russian soldiers during an attack on the village of Mykhailivka in the southern Kherson region, and the wounded were taken to hospitals in Crimea. The claim could not be independently verified.

Ukrainian forces also reported they conducted deadly strikes on the Kinburn Spit in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv province, a key site for Russian electronic warfare.

Russia kept up its strikes on critical infrastructure, with a rocket attack overnight causing a fire at a key industrial facility in Ukraine’s southern Zaporizhzhia region, according to the region’s chief. Some parts of the regional capital of Zaporizhzhia were left without heat.

The head of Ukraine’s biggest private energy firm told the BBC that Ukrainians who can afford it should consider leaving the country to relieve pressure on its war-damaged power system.

“If they can find an alternative place to stay for another three or four months, it will be very helpful to the system,” said Maxim Timchenko, chief executive of DTEK. “If you consume less, then hospitals with injured soldiers will have a guaranteed power supply.”

In Poland, a funeral was held Saturday for one of the two men who died when a missile landed there this week, according to the state news agency PAP. A military honor guard and Polish and Ukrainian representatives joined the man’s family and members of the community.

NATO member Poland and the head of the military alliance have both said the missile strike in an eastern farming region appeared to be unintentional and was probably launched by air defenses in neighboring Ukraine. Russia had been bombarding Ukraine at the time.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense noted Saturday that Russia conducted its largest ever-debt issuance in a single day, raising $13.6 billion on Wednesday. It said debt issuance is a key mechanism to sustain defense spending.

___

Lawless reported from London. Elise Morton in London and Sam Mednick in Kherson, Ukraine, contributed to this story.

___

Follow all AP stories about the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday.

15 hours ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

16 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

17 hours ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

1 day ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

4 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

UK PM Sunak makes surprise trip to Kyiv, boosts defense aid