As tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to rise, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise trip to the United Kingdom on Wednesday. This was his second foreign trip since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and it is clear that the President is looking for more support from Western allies. His visit included a speech to Parliament, a meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, and talks with Ukrainian troops being trained by British forces.
Zelensky thanked the UK for their continued support during his speech in Westminster Hall and asked for more military aid as Kyiv fears Moscow is gearing up for an offensive this spring. He also presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with the helmet of a Ukrainian fighter pilot as a token of appreciation. In response to these requests, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that training programs would be expanded to include pilots on NATO-standard fighter jets. The UK may also consider sending its own jets if deemed necessary; they will provide longer-range capabilities as well but nothing has been finalized yet.
It is evident that there are still many geopolitical issues between Russia and Ukraine that have yet to be resolved, and Zelensky’s surprise visit only emphasizes how important it is for Western nations like the UK to demonstrate their support for Kyiv’s cause. The UK has already sent over 700 troops to eastern Europe in 2020 as part of NATO’s deterrence mission against Russian aggression in the region, but more can be done by providing additional military aid and strengthening joint defense efforts.
The West must come together against Moscow’s aggression if it hopes to help Ukraine protect itself from further provocations from Russia. It is crucial that world leaders show unity and present a united front against any threats posed by Putin or any other nation attempting to interfere with another state’s autonomy– both diplomatically and militarily if need be — otherwise tensions will continue escalating until something drastic occurs. Ultimately, this would not only affect relations between those two countries but could have wider implications globally too; proactively taking steps now could potentially prevent major escalations later down the line.