10:10 AM 16th November 2023
Ukraine: Foreign Secretary Visits Kyiv In First Overseas Trip
The Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, has travelled to Kyiv for his first overseas visit to underline the UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.
In Kyiv, Foreign Secretary David Cameron met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Kuleba, telling them his support for the country was enduring, as it had been when he was Prime Minister.
David Cameron spearheaded the start of Op Orbital in 2015 as Prime Minister, launching the major British Army training programme in Ukraine, which drilled and upskilled more than 22,000 soldiers. The programme was paused last year during Russia’s full scale invasion, and replaced by Op Interflex, which is based in the UK.
The Foreign Secretary also heard how Ukraine continues to make progress pushing back Russian forces, including in Topoli and heard how Ukraine continues to make remarkable progress in the Black Sea to drive the Russian Navy eastwards.
As part of the visit, the Foreign Secretary welcomed the launch of the new ’Unity Facility’ between UK company Marsh McLennan and the Ukrainian Government, which will provide affordable shipping insurance for grain and other critical food supplies globally from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
The facility delivers on a pledge made at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London in June, where Marsh McLennan committed to provide services to the Ukrainian government pro-bono.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said:
"As Foreign Secretary, supporting Ukraine against Putin’s aggression is vital, which is why I am pleased to make this my first visit as Secretary of State.
"Russia thinks it can wait this war out, and that the West will eventually turn its attention elsewhere. This could not be further from the truth. In my first discussions with President Zelenskyy in my new role, I made clear that the UK and our partners will support Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes for them to achieve victory.
"As winter approaches, we continue to stand with the Ukrainian people as they resist Putin’s illegal invasion. In the last 3 months, they have pushed Russia back in the Black Sea and are opening vital sea trade routes for the Ukrainian economy and global food supplies."
The Foreign Secretary also discussed Ukraine’s NATO aspirations with Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna. The UK is clear that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO and is working with Allies to smooth the path to Ukraine’s accession by removing the need for a Membership Action Plan.
The UK is the second largest donor of military assistance to Ukraine, committing £4.6 billion to the country so far, and most recently announcing a £100 million package that will assist Ukraine’s armed forces to clear minefields, maintain its vehicles and shore up defensive fortifications to protect critical national infrastructure.
This month UK marks the 30,000th Ukrainian soldier to be trained under Operation Interflex, the largest military training programme of its kind on British soil since the Second World War. The programme has proved game-changing for Ukraine’s forces and was first rolled out in Ukraine under David Cameron’s leadership in 2015.
The Foreign Secretary also held talks on Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The UK is working closely with Ukraine on its reconstruction, having hosted the Ukraine Recovery Conference in June 2023, which saw more than $60 billion being raised towards recovery efforts, including £240 million in bilateral assistance from the UK.
The Foreign Secretary also visited Unit City, an innovation and technology hub in Kyiv, where he met young entrepreneurs building the future of Ukraine’s economy.