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UK reaffirms Ukraine support on war anniversary – BBC News

Image source, No 10 Downing Street

Image caption,

Rishi Sunak said the UK would do “whatever it takes” for Ukraine to achieve victory

Political leaders in the UK have reaffirmed their support for Ukraine on the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Britain was prepared to do “whatever it takes” and pledged almost £250m towards producing artillery shells.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said President Vladimir Putin’s “cowardice and barbarity” would not prevail.

It comes a day after the UK announced further sanctions against Russia.

“This is the moment to show that tyranny will never triumph and to say once again that we will stand with Ukraine today and tomorrow,” he said.

“We are prepared to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, until they prevail.”

Bolstering the UK government’s message of support further, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps insisted that it is “absolutely committed” to supporting Ukraine.

He emphasised that ammunition is what Ukraine “needs desperately at the moment” and said Parliament remains united in its support: “Parliament can be divided over all sorts of things, but we are not over our support of Ukraine”.

Mr Shapps warned there would be “fatal” consequences if Western countries give up on Ukraine, adding: “The world won’t be safe unless we stop a tyrant like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin”.

Video caption,

Watch: Ukraine two years on: A look back at the war

Western leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as well as EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, have travelled to Kyiv to show their solidarity.

Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also joined them. During his visit to Kyiv, Mr Johnson said he had “no doubt that the Ukrainians will win and expel Putin’s forces”.

But he emphasised that Ukraine would only be able to do so if given “the military, political and economic help that they need”.

A new package, announced on Saturday, includes £245m intended to replenish Kyiv’s reserves of artillery ammunition – an area which has been key to Ukraine’s resistance, with shortages recently being cited as an issue.

Mr Sunak said “against all the odds”, Ukraine had “pushed back the Russian invaders to recapture half of the land Putin stole”.

The announcement comes after the Royal Air Force completed its delivery of a previously announced consignment of anti-tank missiles.

The prime minister’s verbal commitment comes after Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron warned the United Nations against “fatigue” and “compromise”.

Addressing the UN general assembly in New York on Friday, he said the world must “recognise the cost of giving up”.

“Putin has said there will be no peace until Russia’s goals have been achieved,” he said.

The foreign secretary again urged the United States Congress to back a fresh package of military support for Ukraine.

The US has provided the most military aid to Ukraine during the conflict, according to the Kiel Institute, which tracks support.

But a bill promising almost $60bn (£50bn) in military aid may not pass Congress after opposition from some Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The UK announced a raft of new sanctions this week targeting individuals and organisations sustaining Russia’s military, as well as six prison bosses following the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of Mr Putin and his war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer, hoping to enter Downing Street after the general election which is widely expected to be held this year, said the UK would support Kyiv “no matter who is in power in this country”.

“The resistance of the Ukrainian people has inspired and humbled the world,” he said.

“The UK and our allies will stand in solidarity with them until their day of victory.”

On Saturday, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said Scotland maintained “steadfast support” for Ukraine, ahead of his attendance at a service with other political and religions leaders.

“Ukrainians are fighting for freedom, the rule of law, and the right of countries across Europe to co-exist in peace and security,” he said.

The war in Ukraine has largely been at a stalemate in recent months, though Russia has appeared to make recent advances.

Last weekend, Ukrainian forces withdrew from the eastern city of Avdiivka – where they had battled a fierce Russian assault for four months despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is expected to take part in a virtual meeting with G7 leaders on Saturday, has publicly urged western allies to provide more weapons or risk emboldening Russia’s forces.

In a joint statement on behalf of more than 50 governments, including the UK, Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “We reiterate our demand to Russia to stop its war of aggression against Ukraine and to ensure the full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Russian forces and military equipment from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

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