King Charles met with Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the Ukrainian President’s surprise trip to London on Wednesday, February 8. On the first leg of his European tour to drum up aid for his country in the war against Russia, Zelenskyy visited with the new monarch before addressing the U.K. parliament. While speaking privately with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as well, Zelenskyy requested a British pledge to train Ukrainian pilots on NATO fighter jets, per CNBC.
Ukraine “will do everything possible and impossible to make the world provide us with modern planes to empower and protect pilots who will be protecting us,” Zelenskyy said, according to the outlet. “We have freedom, give us wings to protect it,” he added. The speech came as the Ukraine prepares for an expected large-scale offensive by Russian forces.
Following Zelenskyy’s speech, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told reporters, “The PM has tasked the defense secretary with investigating what jets we might be able to give — but to be clear this is a long-term solution,” according to Politico. Wallace added that that the U.K. has always considered a “multi-year approach” in their support for Ukraine.
The London landing was only Zelenskyy’s second foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb, 24, 2022. Almost a year ago, the former TV star visited the United States and made a historic speech to Congress. He thanked President Joe Biden for his “candid support” in their war against Russia at the time and he also thanked members of Congress for their bipartisan backing. “I am grateful to President Biden for his personal efforts, his steps that unite the partners,” Zelenskyy said at the time. “When all countries of the world take some position and are focusing on cooperation and mutual understanding, this is very useful for all of the countries, for Ukraine for the United States.”
Zelenskyy was scheduled to fly to France later on Wednesday for a dinner in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron. He was also expected to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during a European Union leaders’ summit in Brussels.