Ukrainian president Zelenskiy makes first UK visit since Russian invasion

Ukrainian president Zelenskiy makes first UK visit since Russian invasion

On Wednesday, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy made his first visit to the UK since the Russian invasion as he tried to drum up western support. Here is how he spent the day:

Zelenskiy touched down in a Royal Air Force plane on Wednesday morning, dressed in his usual military fatigues, shortly after Downing Street made the surprise announcement that he was going to come to the UK. It was the second overseas visit of the Ukrainian president since the Russian invasion nearly a year ago.

He was embraced by British prime minister Rishi Sunak, who promised him extra military aid as part of what Downing Street called a two-pronged approach to UK support for Ukraine, before the two men were driven away in a police-escorted convoy.

British officials said the promised support would start with an immediate surge of military equipment and a proposal to bolster the UK's training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to help them fly Nato-standard jets. Downing Street said Sunak intended to start an immediate training program for marines.

Sunak and Zelenskiy had lots to talk about as he welcomed the Ukrainian president to Downing Street. The two leaders shook hands in front of the cameras before their private talks, standing in front of the UK and Ukrainian flags in No 10 s White Room.

Zelenskiy said it was a great honour to be visiting the UK, as he thanked Britain for its support from the first days of full-scale invasion Before that, he and Sunak were seen chatting as they walked from their car to No 10. The couple shook hands at the front door and waved to the cameras.

Zelenskiy spoke in Westminster Hall, witnessed by MPs including Sunak and the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, to thank the UK after the offer of extra military help, including the offer to train pilots to operate modern war planes.

The Ukrainian president has also urged the UK and other western allies to provide wings for freedom by providing his air force with the advanced jets for those pilots to fly.

The Commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, told Zelenskiy: This hall has been the place of many great historical events. Zelenskiy said he had come to the UK on behalf of our warriors who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire, on behalf of our air gunners and every mother who are waiting for their brave sons and brave daughters back home from the war. I will be leaving the parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes. The head of the Ukrainian state was also given a visit to Buckingham Palace to meet his closest equivalent in the UK, King Charles III. He called the occasion the first meeting between the two men an honour. He added that it would be a truly special moment for me, for our country, and in particular because I will convey to all Ukrainians the words of gratitude for the support His Majesty showed to them when he was still the Prince of Wales. Zelenskiy was welcomed at the King's Door when he arrived, first by the king's equerry, Lt Col Johnny Thompson. Thompson, dressed in his military uniform with kilt, shook hands with Zelenskiy before introducing him to Sir Clive Alderton, the principal private secretary to the king and queen consort. They shook hands before the president was welcomed into Buckingham Palace.