Russia’s embassy in the UK has reacted angrily to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Britain. During the latest leg of the Mr Zelensky’s tour of western allies, Ukraine’s leader said he and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak discussed western fighter jets, adding that he anticipated “very important decisions” to be made soon.
In response to his visit, the Russian embassy’s Twitter account posted a photograph of Mr Zelensky when he was playing the president in a TV show along with the message: “Zelensky’s in town. Time for British taxpayers to make another generous contribution.”
The embassy’s post was mocked by fellow users of the social media platform, with Twitter user @MrStenmeister hitting back by replying: “Best use of my taxes ever. I’ll even send some of my disposable income.”
@JonBurkeUK replied: “I like to to think of it as an excellent investment in the defeat of a plutocracy whose illegitimate leadership murders and imprisons its domestic critics, carpet bombs Ukrainian children, and smashes their own ‘comrades’ brains in with sledge-hammers.”
Fellow Twitter user @Adam0902731 quipped: “Awesome. I’m donating to Ukraine today. Slava Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian president’s visit comes three months after his first trip to London since the start of Russia’s invasion.
After the meeting, the president said Britain and Ukraine were “real partners”, with Mr Sunak knowing details of developments on the battlefield.
Mr Zelensky said: “We want to create this jets coalition and I’m very positive with it. We spoke about it and I see that in the closest time you will hear some, I think very important decisions but we have to work a little bit more on it.”
Mr Sunak stressed the provision of warplanes was not a “straightforward thing”, but said Britain is committed to training Ukrainian pilots to use NATO-standard aircraft.
Downing Street said an elementary flying phase for cohorts of Ukrainian pilots will begin this summer, along with British efforts to work with other countries on providing F16 jets.
Mr Sunak said: “This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke.
“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.”
At the beginning of the meeting, Mr Zelensky thanked the British Government, King Charles III and the British people for their support.
He said: “We are thankful from all our hearts, from Ukrainians, from our soldiers, we are thankful.”
The president said his talks with Mr Sunak would cover “very important issues, urgent support for Ukraine”.
He added the crisis is a matter of security not only for Ukraine, but of importance to all of Europe.
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The latest package of military assistance will see hundreds of air defence missiles and more unmanned aerial systems, including long-range attack drones with a range of more than 124 miles (200km).
The new equipment will be delivered over the coming months.
Britain recently promised long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Kyiv after continued Russian attacks.
Russia has said it takes an “extremely negative view” of the UK’s decision to supply the Storm Shadow cruise missiles and other military hardware.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that The Kremlin believed the British supplies wouldn’t drastically change the course of the war.
Mr Peskov said: “Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine.
“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.”
He added: “It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated.”
Mr Zelensky landed by helicopter at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s official country retreat, where he was greeted by Mr Sunak with a handshake and a hug.
Monday’s visit to Britain comes after Ukraine’s leader made an unannounced visit to Paris on Sunday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.
He has also made trips to Germany and Italy, where he met those countries’ leaders.
As Mr Zelensky visited capitals across Europe, Russia stepped up attacks across Ukraine with drones and missiles.
On Sunday, Russia shelled two communities in the northern border region of Sumy, the region’s military administration said in a statement on its official Telegram channel. It said 109 explosions were recorded.
Mr Zelensky’s office said on Monday that the shelling 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 Prymorsk, which is on the Azov Sea coast about 12 miles (20km) from Russian-occupied Berdyansk.
The presidential office also reported that Marhanets, which lies across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, was shelled.
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