New British PM assures Ukraine of ‘unshakable’ support

One of Keir Starmer’s first phone calls after taking charge of the UK government was with Vladimir Zelensky

London’s support for Kiev during the conflict with Moscow will remain at the same level under his leadership, the new Prime Minister of Britain Keir Starmer has told Vladimir Zelensky.

Starmer replaced Rishi Sunak as the head of the UK government on Friday after the Labour Party he leads claimed a landslide victory in a general election, securing at least 412 of the 650 seats in parliament. One of his first phone calls in the new role was with Zelensky.

The Ukrainian leader wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday that during their conversation he congratulated Starmer on becoming prime minister and “wished him success in fulfilling the British people’s expectations of the new government.”

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Starmer for reaffirming the UK’s principled and unwavering support for Ukraine,” he said.

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According to Zelensky, he and the British premier had “coordinated positions” ahead of the NATO Summit in Washington on July 9-11 and discussed ways to further strengthen the “partnership” between Kiev and London.

Starmer later shared Zelensky’s post on his page, claiming that “Ukraine’s ongoing fight against Russian aggression matters to all of us.”

“The UK’s support [for Kiev] remains unshakable,” the PM wrote, adding that he is looking forward to meeting Zelensky in person.

Britain has been one of the biggest backers of Ukraine during the conflict with Russia, pledging £12.5 billion (around $16 billion) in support for Kiev, including £7.6 billion (around $9.7 billion) in military aid, since February 2022.

Starmer becomes the UK’s fourth prime minister during this period, after Conservatives Boris Johnson, who resigned in September 2022, Liz Truss, who set a record by stepping down on her 15th day in office, and Sunak, who headed the government until Friday. However, London’s commitment to Kiev remained unchanged despite the changes at the helm.

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Earlier this year, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the role played by Britain during the conflict in Ukraine was “even more aggressive, more elaborate in its provocative assertiveness than of any other participant, including even the US.”

In May, London’s ambassador in Moscow, Nigel Casey, was summoned to the foreign ministry following remarks by the UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron that Ukraine has the “right” to use UK-provided weaponry to strike targets deep inside Russia, if it decides to do so. Casey was warned that “British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond” could be targeted if such attacks do happen.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Kiev by the US, UK and their allies will not prevent Russia from achieving its military goals, but will merely prolong the fighting and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. According to Russian officials, the provision of arms, sharing of intelligence, and training of Ukrainian troops effectively means that Western nations have become de-facto parties to the conflict.

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