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Beggar on the Streets of London: Zelensky's Surprise UK Visit — Video

© AFP 2023 / DAN KITWOOD / British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laugh during the latter's surprise visit to London on February 8 2023British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laugh during the latter's surprise visit to London on February 8 2023
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laugh during the latter's surprise visit to London on February 8 2023 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2023
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made a high profile surprise visit to the UK, including an audience with King Charles III. But will he leave empty-handed, or with firm pledges of more arms supplies from PM Rishi Sunak?
Zelensky flew in UK courtesy of the RAF in a giant C-17 military transport plane on Wednesday.
Ironically, he and his entourage, including his Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and chief of staff Andriy Yermak, arrived at Stansted Airport, known for budget holiday flights.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met Zelensky, still clad in his khaki sweatshirt and cargo trousers, on the runway with an embrace for the waiting cameras.
The two diminutive leaders were then whisked by government limousine to Downing Street for another photo opportunity, before heading for the Houses of Parliament where Sunak enjoyed a softball round of PM's Questions with both benches agreeing on support for Kiev.
House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle then suspended the business of democracy so MPs could gather in Westminster Hall — the eight-century-old original seat of parliament — to cheer Zelensky to the rafters.
The UK and Ukraine were "marching together to the greatest victory in our history," Zelensky insisted even as his beleaguered army lost ground in Donbass, one which would deter any future enemy from challenging the West's "international order."

"We know freedom will win, we know Russia will lose, and we really know the victory will change the world and this will be a change the world has long needed," Zelensky declared.

Later the Kiev comedian-turned-leader was granted a royal audience with King Charles II at Buckingham Palace — still clad in khaki.
An Ukrainian recruit holds a Javelin anti-tank weapon during a five-week combat training course with the UK armed forces near Durrington in southern England on October 11, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.02.2023
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Zelensky typically uses his foreign trips to beg for more financial and military aid from his Western patrons to prop up his struggling regime.
Predictably, the Ukrainian leader's UK visit was accompanied by Sunak's announcement that the UK armed forces would begin training Ukrainian marines and pilots — although Kiev's navy and air force have been reduced to mere remnants of their pre-conflict strength.
Zelensky thanked Parliament "in advance for powerful English planes" that he expected as a gift.
But British defence magazine Jane's reported on January 27 that the Royal Air Force (RAF) had grounded its fleet of BAE Hawk T2 advanced jet trainer aircraft over engine problems following a runway incident. That means the RAF cannot currently train its own fast jet pilots, let alone those from another country.
Furthermore, the RAF does not operate the US-made F-16 fighters widely mooted for donation to Ukraine by the Netherlands or other NATO members.
Having phased out its Tornado strike and interceptor aircraft and Harrier jump-jet close-support planes, the RAF's only in-service combat aircraft is the Eurofighter Typhoon. Only around 100 of those are in active service in the UK, equipping five front-line squadrons, an operational conversion unit operating the two-seat training variant and an "aggressor" squadron which plays the role of hostile 'bandits' in exercises.
But that did not stop former PM Boris Johnson, one of the loudest voices for more arms supplies to Ukraine and sanctions on Russia since the start of its military operation, to effectively disarm the armed forces for Kiev's sake.
"We have more than 100 Typhoon jets. We have more than 100 Challenger 2 tanks," Johnson said. "The best single use for any of these items is to deploy them now for the protection of the Ukrainians — not least because that is how we guarantee our own long-term security."
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Zelensky was scheduled to fly to Paris later on Wednesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for a new round of aid pan-handling.
On Thursday he will head to Brussels for a guest appearance at the European Council summit — the gathering of European Union heads of government.
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