UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived in Kyiv on 12 January aiming to send a “strong signal” to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin that Britain remains fully committed to supporting Ukraine. “It is important that Russia sees we are not moving away and will be with Ukraine not just today, not just tomorrow, but for the long term,” Sunak commented in the Ukrainian capital.
Sunak brought news of a record military aid package for 2024 worth $3.2 billion. This is approximately $250 million more than Britain’s previous annual commitments in 2022 and 2023, and maintains the UK’s status as one of Ukraine’s biggest military backers. The package will include artillery ammunition, air defense systems, long-range missiles, and the largest every supply of military drones to Ukraine by a partner country.
Together with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Sunak also signed off on a bilateral security agreement that was hailed by both sides as historic. The landmark security accord, which provides a comprehensive road map for cooperation in the event of a future Russian invasion, is expected to serve as the basis for similar agreements with other G7 countries, and is designed to partially address Ukraine’s national security concerns in the coming years as the country continues to pursue NATO membership.
In a speech to the Ukrainian Parliament, Sunak praised the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian nation. “Putin cannot understand that while you can kill individuals and destroy buildings, no army can ever defeat the will of a free people, and that is why Ukraine will win,” he stated. The British PM also underlined the broader international importance of helping Ukraine defeat Russia’s ongoing invasion. “For the free nations of the world, aid to Ukraine is an investment in our own collective security. If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop there. If we waver now, we will embolden not just Putin but his allies in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere.”
Sunak’s Kyiv visit was particularly timely as it came amid mounting concerns over delays in crucial Western support for Ukraine. A major US aid package has been held up in Congress for the past few months, while efforts to confirm long-term EU backing were blocked by Hungary in December. This lack of clarity over future international support for Ukraine is fueling a growing sense of confidence in Russia, with Putin’s current strategy believed to focus on outlasting the West. Zelenskyy has recently warned that Western hesitancy will encourage Putin to go further. “The insecurity of partners regarding financial and military aid to Ukraine only increases Russia’s courage and strength,” he commented while in Lithuania earlier this week.