Cleverly promises Ukrainian president ‘action – not just words’ from UK

The Foreign Secretary shared a photo of his meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to Ukraine.

James Cleverly
James Cleverly

The Foreign Secretary has promised Ukraine’s president that the UK will commit “action – not just words” in its support of the war-torn nation.

James Cleverly met Volodymyr Zelensky during a visit to Kyiv, just days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to the Ukrainian capital.

He said the UK intends to keep its pledge to offer “concrete” assistance, as words alone “won’t keep the lights on” or “defend against Russian missiles”.

It came as Mr Cleverly announced a package of “hands-on” support to help the nation through the winter.

Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.

Thanking Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba for welcoming him to the country, the Cabinet minister tweeted: “Words are not enough. Words won’t keep the lights on this winter. Words won’t defend against Russian missiles.

“The UK isn’t just talking about Ukraine, we’re providing concrete support for the defence of Ukraine.”

Mr Kuleba said he was “grateful” for Mr Cleverly’s “brave visit” and the UK’s “steadfast support” during the “difficult times” at hand.

“Our shared goal is Ukraine’s victory which will restore security and stability in Europe and beyond,” he tweeted.

Mr Cleverly also shared a photo of his meeting with Mr Zelensky, addressing him directly.

“President @ZelenskyyUa, the UK is supporting you with action – not just words,” he wrote.

“I made you that promise today. The UK intends to keep it.”

The Foreign Secretary said during a visit to a school that it was “great” to see British money being used to get the Ukrainian education system back up and running.

Asked how he felt being exposed to the threat in Ukraine, he said he felt it was key for the UK to show “visible” support for the nation.

“I think it’s incredibly important that the UK demonstrates to the Ukrainian people, who are bearing the brunt of this brutality from Russia, that we are standing shoulder to shoulder with them through our military support, through our humanitarian support through our economic support, but also through the visible support,” he told broadcasters.

“And I thought it was important that we demonstrated we support them despite the attacks from Russia, and that we’ll continue to do so.”

The UK will send 35 more emergency vehicles, including 24 ambulances and six armoured vehicles, to Ukraine.

The Foreign Secretary also announced a further £3 million for the rebuilding of local infrastructure, including schools and shelters, as well as additional funding to support survivors of sexual assault.

Mr Cleverly said: “As winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try and break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure. Russia will fail.

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. I have today announced a package of hands-on support for our Ukrainian friends in their fight, from ambulances to crucial support for survivors of the sexual violence carried out by the Russian military.

“I’ve seen here first-hand how the UK’s efforts are helping brave citizens to resist and rebuild. Our support will continue for as long as it takes for this remarkable country to recover.”

Meanwhile, the UK is committing £5 million to a Ukraine-led initiative, delivered through the UN World Food Programme, to ship grain to countries most at risk of famine, including Yemen and Sudan.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey said: “I am pleased the UK Government can support President Zelensky’s work to help Ukraine’s grain reach some of the poorest and most vulnerable nations in the world.

“Global food security is in all our interests – and helping Ukraine’s farmers and agricultural sector to continue producing and exporting food in these most difficult of circumstances is vital for that security.”

Mr Sunak’s visit to Kyiv last Saturday was accompanied by the announcement of a £50 million package of defence aid comprising 125 anti-aircraft guns and technology to help Ukraine counter Iranian-supplied drones, including radars and anti-drone equipment.

The Prime Minister said it was “deeply humbling” to be in the Ukrainian capital and that he was “proud” of how the UK had backed the country since Moscow’s invasion began.

His vocal support for Kyiv sees him follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

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