Ukraine war: Rishi Sunak to urge West to ‘double down’ on military aid as front line troops plead for weapons | World News
Rishi Sunak will urge Western leaders to “double down” on military support for Ukraine, as troops on the front line plead for more weapons.
The prime minister is set to tell the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that “advanced, NATO-standard capabilities” are needed to banish Russian forces.
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The three-day conference, which debates the most pressing challenges to international security, is being attended by a host of senior Western officials, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and US vice president Kamala Harris.
Mr Sunak will use his speech to argue that securing a lasting peace for Ukraine will require the strengthening of international law, and press for a new plan to protect the country’s sovereignty in the future.
“What is at stake in this war is even greater than the security and sovereignty of one nation. It’s about the security and sovereignty of every nation,” he is set to say.
“Because Russia’s invasion, its abhorrent war crimes and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric are symptomatic of a broader threat to everything we believe in.”
It comes as the one-year anniversary of the conflict fast approaches, with Ukrainian troops joining their leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in demanding more military aid.
Soldiers are fighting in the small city of Bakhmut, in the eastern Donetsk region. It’s been a focus for Russian forces, despite Western intelligence saying it carries little strategic significance.
The pre-war population of 70,000 has mainly fled the area.
“Give us more military equipment, more weapons, and we will deal with the Russian occupier,” said one serviceman.
“We will destroy them.”
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The Munich summit comes as Ukrainians contend with an expected spring-time offensive by Vladimir Putin, which some believe has already begun ahead of the war’s anniversary on 24 February.
It follows Mr Zelenskyy’s visit to Britain, Paris, and Brussels last week, as he made the case for the West to send fighter planes for his air force.
Britain said it will extend its training mission to cover fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine can defend its skies. Around 10,000 Ukrainian troops have already come to the UK to learn “NATO tactics”.
Similarly, on Friday, the Pentagon said a Ukrainian battalion of around 635 soldiers had completed a five-week US course on combined arms training.
And on the battlefield, Ukrainian servicemen showed a journalist the benefits of Australian-provided Bushmaster armoured vehicles, in an area where Russian soldiers have become bogged down trying to take Bakhmut.
“It has worked very well,” one serviceman said.
“There were cases when anti-tank mines were detonated, and the soldiers only received contusions. There were no serious injuries to the soldiers.”
Russian gains come at ‘devastating cost’
While Ukraine is desperate for further aid, Russia is also continuing to sustain heavy losses.
On Friday, the White House said the mercenary Wagner Group has suffered more than 30,000 casualties. It estimates that 90% of Wagner Group soldiers killed since December were convicts.
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Any gains in Bakhmut had come at a “devastating cost, that is not sustainable”, spokesman John Kirby said.
A Ukrainian official said there are places in Bakhmut where Russian “bodies are piled up”, an indication of the heavy price they paid following waves of assaults around the city.