War in Ukraine: UK pledges additional £1.3bn in military support for Zelenskyy’s forces as G7 leaders prepare to hold talks with President | world news

An additional £1.3 billion in military support will be provided by the UK to Ukrainian forces in their fight against the Russian invasion.

The escalation of British aid for Volodymyr Zelensky forces is the highest rate of British military spending on a conflict since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The £1.3bn, taken from UK reserves, includes £300m of military hardware pledged by Boris Johnson earlier this week.

Mr Johnson, US President Joe Biden and leaders of other G7 countries will meet with Ukrainian President Mr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss the additional support on offer.

Troops prepare for attacks around Russia’s VE Day – live updates

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Mariupol steel plant frustrates Russian forces

Military kit promised by Mr Johnson includes anti-battery radar systems for targeting Russian artillery, GPS jamming equipment and night vision devices.

The news comes as Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said all remaining women, children and elderly people have been able to leave the Azovstal steelworks in the besieged city of Mariupol.

She said: “The president’s order has been carried out: all women, children and elderly people have been evacuated from Azovstal. This part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation is over.”

Cities across Ukraine are bracing for an expected increase in attacks before Russia marks its traditional Victory Day on Monday.

Boris Johnson addresses the Ukrainian parliament

Johnson will meet with arms companies about production

Mr Johnson will host a meeting of arms companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to demand created by the conflict in Ukraine.

Officials said the announcement would help bolster Britain’s arms industry, which could benefit from the global shift away from reliance on equipment from Russia’s sanctions-hit Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister said: “Putin’s brutal attack is not only causing untold devastation in Ukraine, it is also threatening peace and security across Europe.”

The funding comes on top of previous commitments worth around £1.5bn, which included £400m in humanitarian aid and loan guarantees for £700m in additional loans from the World Bank.

Photo: AP
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President Biden promised a package including artillery shells, radars and other military equipment. Photo: AP

US promises artillery shells and radars

President Biden promised a package including artillery shells, radars and other military equipment.

Sunday’s virtual meeting of G7 leaders could also consider additional sanctions against Russia.

The White House sees the meeting as a way to display Western unity on the eve of the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9.

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There has been speculation that the Russian president had hoped to use the symbolically important date to highlight his success in Ukraine, but fierce resistance from Kyiv forces derailed such a claim.

The UK Ministry of Defense said Russia’s ability to fight with modern equipment was compromised by losses in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions.

The Defense Ministry said at least one of Russia’s most advanced T-90M tanks was destroyed in the fighting, while sanctions restricted access to microelectronic components for sophisticated equipment.

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