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UK PM Johnson makes surprise visit to Ukraine on Independence Day

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London, Aug 24: Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Ukraine on the country's Independence Day and announced another major support package worth around GBP 54 million in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

Boris Johnson

It marked Johnson's final visit to Ukrainian capital Kyiv before his formal exit from 10 Downing Street early next month to make way for a new British Prime Minister to be formally elected by the Conservative Party members between former Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Committing the UK to the ongoing support as Ukraine defends its sovereignty from Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal and illegal invasion, Johnson declared that Ukraine can and will win.

For the past six months, the United Kingdom has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, supporting this sovereign country to defend itself from this barbaric and illegal invader, Johnson said.

The new Ukraine is Putin's nightmareThe new Ukraine is Putin's nightmare

Today's package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian Armed Forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom. What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win, he said.

While meeting President Zelenskyy to mark 31 years of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, the outgoing leader said Britain's latest package of 2,000 state-of-the-art drones and loitering munitions will enable Ukraine to better track and target Russian forces.

The unmanned air systems are described as a step up in Ukraine's current capability, improving their long-range surveillance and defensive targeting ability.

It includes 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, which are specifically designed for the use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces.

According to Downing Street, military personnel can be trained to fly the helicopter drones, which are smaller than a mobile phone, in under 20 minutes.

Each drone feeds back live video and still images to allow forces on the ground to defend urban areas safely.

The UK government said it continues to expand the training of Ukrainian military personnel.

Eight other countries have signed up to the major training programmes, which trains civilians to become soldiers, since the Prime Minister announced the programme on his previous visit to Ukraine in June.

Partners contributing expertise and trainers to the rapidly expanding programme include Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Lithuania, Downing Street said.

The UK also claims to have helped drive continued international momentum on funding for defensive lethal aid to Ukraine.

Since Johnson announced an additional GBP 1 billion to provide military aid to Ukraine at NATO in June, a further GBP 1.2 billion worth of financial pledges from allies were secured for Ukraine at the Copenhagen Conference, co-hosted by the UK and Denmark earlier this month.

The UK says it has committed more than GBP 2.3 billion of military and financial aid to Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began in February.

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