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The Prime Minister used his first trip to war-torn Ukraine since taking office to promise a £50million air defence package to neutralise deadly Iranian-made drones.
Ukraine claims the Kremlin acquired 2,400 drones from Iran, including Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones that detonate on impact, and they are being used with devastating effect alongside missiles to target Ukrainian infrastructure.
During his visit, Mr Sunak examined some captured Iranian drones which have been used to target and bomb civilians in recent months.
The £50 million package will include 125 anti-aircraft guns, ancillary radars and anti-drone electronic warfare equipment to help counter the UAVs.
The latest offer is in addition to more than 1,000 new AMRAAM missiles which, though they are designed to be launched from the air, are being fired from the ground with the use of a Norwegian NASAM system.
Britain has now trained more than 7,500 Ukrainian army recruits and at least 60 junior officers. A further 1,900 Ukrainian recruits are currently receiving training in the UK.
Thousands of additional extreme cold winter kits are also being given to Ukrainian forces.
Speaking last night, the PM said his visit had been “deeply humbling”.
“I am proud of how the UK stood with Ukraine from the very beginning. And I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace,” he said
“While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air. We are today providing new air defence, including anti-aircraft guns, radar and anti-drone equipment, and stepping up humanitarian support for the cold, hard winter ahead.”
“It is deeply humbling to be in Kyiv today and to have the opportunity to meet those who are doing so much, and paying so high a price, to defend the principles of sovereignty and democracy.”
With widespread blackouts of destruction of homes, schools and hospitals, the PM also pledged £12 million to the World Food Programme’s response, as well as £4m for the International Organisation for Migration. The funding, sources say, will help provide generators, shelter, water repairs and mobile health clinics.
The UK is also sending tens of thousands of extreme cold winter kits for Ukrainian troops.
Mr Sunak’s tour of Kyiv included a visit to a memorial for the war dead, where he laid flowers before lighting a candle for victims of the Holodomor famine.
He then visited first responders at a fire station, who described their harrowing work rescuing survivors from the rubble and fighting fires in the aftermath of Russian attacks.
The PM and President Zelensky also discussed restructuring plans.
The London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has already announced an initial £1.75bn resilience package of measures to help citizens, companies and countries affected by the war on Ukraine.
Britain has identified an initial eight construction projects, including six bridges and two housing projects – one of which is in Bucha for some 2,250 residents.
It came as Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said forces could be in Crimea by Christmas.
Retired Major Gen Volodymyr Havrylov, said troops could “step into Crimea” within months.
Asked if he believed the war would be over soon, he said: “Being realistic, we will need some time. But my feeling is that by the end of the spring, this war will be over.”
In other news, a fireball could be seen outside of St Petersburg, in Northwest Russia, yesterday after a gas pipeline erupted into flames.
The blast caused disruption to the Severnaya Thermal Power Plant, which heats hundreds of thousands of homes at a time when temperatures are around minus 5C.
Gazprom sources blamed sabotage, with one saying: “Everything is automatic there, and such explosions by themselves, without external influence, are impossible.”
But failing infrastructure was just as likely a cause, said Justin Crump of Sibylline strategic risk group.
“We know acts of sabotage have been carried out in Russia over recent months,” he said.
“But we also know that, owing to strangling sanctions, Russia’s infrastructure is failing. Either explanation is bad news for Moscow.”
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