The Ukrainian President met the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who had mentioned just before his arrival the possibility of training Ukrainian hunting pilots in the United Kingdom. Cécile Ducourieux (London, correspondent)
Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in London on Wednesday, February 8, with only one message: “Give me jets”. In the splendid medieval hall of Westminster, facing the government of Rishi Sunak, hundreds of British Lords and deputies, the Ukrainian president delivered, in English, a passionate speech of about twenty minutes, demanding Western allies ” Hunting planes for Ukraine, wings for freedom “. He also, very symbolically, offered to Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, the helmet of one of the most renowned hunting pilots in the Ukrainian army, on which a similar message was written: “We have the Freedom, give us wings to protect it “(” We have freedom, give us wings to protect it “).
Alluding to his visit, a little later at the Buckingham Palace with King Charles III, Mr. Zelensky still noticed that “here, the king is a pilot of the Royale Air Force, in Ukraine, all our pilots hunting are kings, they are so precious “. He finished his speech with a humor in the same vein, reminiscent of Lindsay Hoyle a previous visit to the British Parliament, two years ago: “I had thanked you for the delicious English tea, launched the Ukrainian president. I thank today in advance the Parliament for your powerful British jets. “
training and intensive training
Until now very reluctant, like the other Western leaders, to send Ukraine fighter planes, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak inflected his position, Wednesday morning, just before M arrival . Zelensky in the United Kingdom, by proposing to train Ukrainian hunting pilots so that they are capable of “in the future, to pilot sophisticated fighter planes compatible with NATO standards”. London also proposed to train Ukrainian sailors. These training efforts are added to the intensive training programs already offered by the United Kingdom in kyiv. About 10,000 Ukrainian fighters have received training by the British over the last six months and London undertakes to “upgrade” them – on the handling of weapons and vehicles – another 20,000 this year.
Wednesday afternoon, Downing Street made another advance, prudent but significant: “The Prime Minister instructed the Minister of Defense [Ben Wallace] to study which planes we could possibly provide [to Ukraine] but , to be clear, this is a long -term solution when these are short -term capacities that Ukraine needs the most. “
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