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Mon, 15 April 2024

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Top Stories: Rishi Sunak Urges G7 Leaders To "Move Faster" In Arming Ukraine, Boris Johnson Increases Pressure To Send British Jets

Rishi Sunak will mark the anniversary with a plea to world leaders to increase military aid (Alamy)

5 min read

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will use the one year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine to pressure other world leaders to "move faster" in arming its military.

Sunak will use a meeting of the G7 to make the plea for allies to supply more long-range weapons to help give Ukraine a "decisive advantage" on the battlefield.

He is expected to tell G7 leaders during the call: "For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin's mindset."

"This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour and air defence.

"The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be for Russia. They are overreaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine's plan to rearm, regroup and push forward."

Sunak will also lead a UK-wide minute of silence at 11am, with the Prime Minister expected to appear outside Downing Street alongside Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, and members of the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ministers also used the one-year anniversary to launch a series of further sanctions on Russia, claiming they were now banning the export of every item Russia has used on the battlefield.

The international co-ordinated sanctions package extends beyond conventional weaponary and includes hundreds of goods, including radio and electronic equipment as well as parts which could be used to maintain and repair aircraft.

The sanctions will also target a further four Russian banks and senior executives at Russia's two largest defence companies.

Announcing the latest measures, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: "Ukrainians are turning the tide on Russia, but they cannot do it alone. That is why we must do more to help Ukraine win.

"Today we are sanctioning the elites who run Putin's key industries and committing to prohibit the export to Russia of every item Russia has been found using on the battlefield."

Boris Johnson doubles down on calls for UK to send fighter jets to Ukraine

The former prime minister has heaped pressure on the government to send fighter jets to Ukraine as he urged Rishi Sunak to "break the ice" by offering Typhoon fighter planes to the country's airforce.

Johnson suggested the UK could encourage a wave of Western countries to supply fighter jets to Ukraine if they chose to donate the planes "sooner rather than later".

"The last year has taught us sooner or later, the West gives the Ukrainians what they need," he said in a statement.

"And if that is the choice – sooner or later – let's make it sooner, for the sake of Ukraine and the world."

He added: "It's absolutely crucial that we give them the supplies and support they need to get on and finish it. 2023 has got to be the year of victory for Ukraine.

Zelensky in Parliament"It's the best thing for Ukraine – it's the best thing for the Russian people. It's the best thing for the world."

Ministers had initially ruled out sending the hi-tech fighter planes to Ukraine, claiming that training pilots to use them would be too time-consuming, but promised to conduct a review following a plea from Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky during a historic speech to parliamentarians earlier this month.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, the Ukrainian leader urged the UK to provide the jets, saying they were crucial to defence efforts.

But speaking on Friday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK would not deliver fighter planes in the "short term".

"The one thing I have learnt in this conflict is you can't rule anything in and rule anything out," he told Sky News.

Wallace said the UK had already provided nearly 200 tanks and helicopters to Ukraine, but said that providing fighter planes would mean deploying "hundreds of people" to the country to help with training and maintenance, adding "the West is not going to be putting troops into Ukraine in those scales".

Keir Starmer promises cross-party unity over Ukraine response

The anniversary of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine has also prompted continued support from opposition parties, who have pledged to keep offering their backing to the government on their response to the war.

Speaking on Friday, Labour leader Keir Starmer said he hoped UK parties would continue to offer a unified approach to Russia's aggression, saying it was time to "double down" on support for Ukraine.

"The resolve and the bravery of the Ukrainian people, supported by their allies across the world, has doomed Putin's barbaric invasion to failure," he said.

"We should take inspiration from their courage and resolve to double down on support for them.

"Their fight for democracy, freedom and liberty in the face of tyranny is also our fight."

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said the whole country would "stand in solidarity with Ukraine until they achieve victory" as he praised the "amazing acts of heroism".

To mark the anniversary Westminster Council leader Adam Hug announcing the decision to rename part of Bayswater Road as "Kyiv Road".

The section of road is close to where the Russian embassy in London is based, with Hug saying it was a "fitting gesture" to pay tribute to Ukraine.

"It's a small stretch of road, but we want to show the people of Ukraine that their struggle has a visible place in our city," he said.

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