Sunak vows to stand with Ukraine for 'as long as it takes' after Kyiv visit in first foreign policy speech as PM

27 November 2022, 22:32 | Updated: 28 November 2022, 06:03

Rishi Sunak is pictured leaving Downing Street for PMQs last week
Rishi Sunak is pictured leaving Downing Street for PMQs last week. Picture: Getty

By Adam Solomons

Rishi Sunak will promise Ukraine "new support" including air defences in his first major foreign policy speech since becoming prime minister one month ago.

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The PM is set to address the Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Guildhall in the City of London on Monday evening.

According to pre-released remarks, he will say: "Be in no doubt. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

"By protecting Ukraine, we protect ourselves."

Mr Sunak will focus on his recent trip to Kyiv in his speech to business leaders, foreign guests and diplomats.

He is also expected to say: “Ukrainian flags have flown over almost every town and city on these islands for the last nine months. No one told people to put them there.

Sunak met with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv last week
Sunak met with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv last week. Picture: Getty

“They felt moved to show solidarity with people they have never met, in a country most have never visited, to show their faith in fairness, freedom and the rule of law.

"We will maintain or increase our military aid next year. And we will provide new support for air defence, to protect the Ukrainian people and the critical infrastructure that they rely on."

The PM has been criticised in some quarters for over-emphasising the global factors affecting the cost of living crisis facing millions in Britain.

He will hope to bat away such critiques with a reminder of the importance of the new close relationship between the UK and Ukraine - and of "standing up to our competitors not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism".

Sunak will add that "delivering a stronger economy at home" is built on "our strength abroad".

Mr Sunak vowed to provide "new support" to Zelenskyy&squot;s nation
Mr Sunak vowed to provide "new support" to Zelenskyy's nation. Picture: Getty

His comments come days after the PM's first visit to Kyiv, where he was warmly welcomed by President Zelensky.

Sunak used a visit to the Ukrainian capital to set out a new £50m package of defence aid, which includes 125 anti-aircraft guns and equipment to counter Iranian-supplied drones.

Britain will also send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since the war began, defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed late last week.

Three former Sea King helicopters will be provided, with the first having already arrived in Ukraine.

Sunak told Zelensky: "Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way."

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