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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday used his first visit to Kyiv to pledge support to Ukraine, offering a major new air defence package as the country celebrated retaking the southern city of Kherson. online news
“I am here today to say that the UK will continue to stand with you… until Ukraine has won the peace and security it needs and deserves,” Sunak said in a press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The British leader announced a new air defence package worth £50 million ($60 million).
This comprises “125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to counter deadly Iranian-supplied drones, including dozens of radars and anti-drone electronic warfare capability,” according to a Downing Street statement.
It follows more than 1,000 new anti-air missiles announced by the British defence secretary earlier this month, as Britain cements its status as a steadfast ally of Ukraine.
“It is deeply humbling to be with you in your country today. The courage of the Ukrainian people is an inspiration to the world,” Sunak told his host.
We’ll tell our grandchildren
Ukraine had requested more air defence systems as Russia pummels its energy infrastructure nine months after invading its neighbour to spark one of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts since World War II.
“In years to come we’ll tell our grandchildren of your story, how proud and sovereign people stood up in the face of an appalling onslaught, how you fought, how you sacrificed, how you prevailed,” said Sunak.
In response, Zelensky praised a “meaningful and useful visit for both our countries,” after discussing with Sunak “the possibilities of protecting European and Ukrainian energy security” and “our capabilities in protecting the Ukrainian sky, as well as defence cooperation in general”.
On Twitter, Zelensky said “with friends like you by our side, we are confident in our victory”.
There were joyous scenes, meanwhile, in Kherson, where residents gathered in numbers to greet the first passenger train in eight months to pull in to reunite families divided by the conflict.
“I promised I would come back. It happened so I kept my promise,” said Anastasia Shevlyuga, 30, moments after stepping off the train and meeting her mother.
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The human cost of the conflict was laid bare, meanwhile, when the Ukraine prosecutor general’s office stated Saturday that 437 children had been killed — the vast majority in the eastern Donetsk region — and a further 837 injured since the start of the war “as a result of Russia’s full-scale armed aggression.”
Officials said the figures were provisional as they verify the situation where fighting is ongoing.
Russians killed after surrendering
On the military front, the Ukrainian army said it was checking the authenticity of footage that Moscow says proves Kyiv executed several surrendering Russian soldiers in a “war crime”.
Videos circulated on Russian social media this week that purport to show the bodies of Russian servicemen apparently killed after surrendering to Ukrainian troops.
“Before launching an investigation, there must be grounds for it. We are currently establishing whether these videos are fake,” Ukraine’s spokesman for the general staff Bogdan Senyk told AFP, saying they have been handed over to “specialists.”
The soldiers who are giving themselves up lie down on the ground in the debris-filled backyard of a house before the video abruptly cuts off as shots are heard.
More footage shows the bodies of around a dozen people surrounded by apparent blood stains.
“We are aware of the videos and we are looking into them,” a UN spokesperson told AFP, calling for the perpetrators to be held to account.
The Russian Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, says it has opened a criminal case into the “execution of captured Russian servicemen.”
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