Rishi Sunak pledges more military support for Ukraine as PM condemns ‘abhorrent’ drone attacks

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The UK will provide more military equipment to Ukraine in the weeks ahead, Downing Street has revealed after Rishi Sunak agreed to “intensify” cooperation with president Volodymyr Zelensky.

No 10 said the prime minister told the president that moves were underway “to provide further equipment in the coming weeks and months to secure Ukraine’s victory on the battlefield”.

Mr Zelensky suggested that “concrete decisions” had been made on fresh military equipment after he talked about “further defence cooperation” with the British PM.

“We agreed to intensify our efforts to bring victory closer this year already. We already have concrete decisions for this,” the Ukrainian leader tweeted on Tuesday.

It comes as Russia prepares to step up its attacks on Ukraine using exploding drones, according to Mr Zelensky – who warned the Ukrainian people of a lengthy bombardment from Iranian-made drones.

“We have information that Russia is planning a prolonged attack by Shaheds [Iranian-made exploding drones],” the Ukrainian president said in his latest video address.

Mr Zelensky said the Russian goal is to break Ukraine’s resistance by “exhausting our people, [our] air defence, our energy”, more than 10 months after the invasion.

Russia’s use of exploding drones appear to have intensified in recent days, with Moscow targeting Ukrainian cities and power stations for bombing during the past three nights.

The embattle president added that during the first two days of the new year, Ukraine’s forces shot down more than 80 Iranian-made drones.

The Kremlin is looking for ways to hit back after a Ukrainian rocket attack killed dozens of Russian soldiers in a town in the Donetsk region on New Year’s Eve. In a rare statement on casualties, Moscow said the attack had killed 63 of its troops.

Mr Sunak told Mr Zelensky that Ukraine could “count on the UK to continue to support it for the long term” during their call on Tuesday – and described the Russian drone attacks on Ukrainian cities as “abhorrent”.

The UK has recently delivered 1,000 surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine to boost its defence against the Russian invasion.

More than 1,900 Ukrainian troops have received training in Britain. The ally’s forces have also been boosted by extreme cold weather kits for the winter – including 25,000 set of clothing and 20,000 sleeping bags.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is exploring how to shore up confidence in Moscow’s flawed war effort, which in recent months has been dented by a Ukrainian counteroffensive backed by western-supplied weapons.

Russian nationalists and politicians have called for the punishment of the country’s military commanders after the deadly Ukrainian New Year’s Eve attack on a makeshift barracks at Makiivka in the Donetsk region.

Sergei Mironov, a legislator and former chair of the Russian Senate, demanded criminal liability for the officials who had “allowed the concentration of military personnel in an unprotected building”.

Ukraine’s western-reinforced air defences have made it difficult for Russian planes to carry out missile strikes.

The exploding drones used by Moscow are cheap weapons which also spread fear among troops and civilians. The US, the UK and other Ukraine allies have clashed with Iran over its role in allegedly supplying them.

Overnight Russian shelling was also reported in the north-eastern Kharkiv region and the south-eastern Dnipropetrovsk region.

In the recently retaken areas of the southern Kherson region, Russian shelling killed two people and wounded nine others, Kherson’s Ukrainian governor, Yaroslav Yanushevich, said on Tuesday. He said Russian forces fired on the city of Kherson 32 times on Monday.

Source: independent.co.uk