Free world stands with Ukraine, says Rishi Sunak on 2-year mark of conflict with Russia

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak marked the second anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on February 24, with a pledge to renew the UK’s determination to support the Ukrainians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Screenshot courtesy: X/@RishiSunak

Sunak declared that the free world stood united in its response to the “illegal invasion” launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin against Ukraine. He posted a video on the social network X, showing his interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The British Indian leader reflected upon his recent visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv when he announced a major package of defence aid. This new aid to Ukraine takes the UK’s total support to GBP 12 billion.

It comes as the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pledged GBP 8.5 million in humanitarian funding allocations to the Red Cross Movement and the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund.

When Putin launched his illegal invasion two years ago, the free world was united in its response. We stood together behind Ukraine. And on this grim anniversary, we must renew our determination.

Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The UK premier said, “I was in Kyiv just a few weeks ago and I met wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Each harrowing story was a reminder of Ukraine’s courage in the face of terrible suffering. It was a reminder of the price they are paying not only to defend their country against a completely unjustified invasion, but also to defend the very principles of freedom, sovereignty and the rule of law, on which we all depend.”

He added, “The UK is going further in our support. I announced last month the biggest single package of defence aid to Ukraine, taking our total support to GBP 12 billion and signed a 10-year agreement on security co-operation — the first of its kind.

“This is the moment to show that tyranny will never triumph and to say once again that we will stand with Ukraine today and tomorrow. We are prepared to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, until they prevail.”

Millions of Ukrainians in need of shelter, food, water

According to the FCDO, over 14.6 million people — about 40 per cent of the Ukrainian population — is in need of humanitarian assistance. Millions have been left homeless, struggle without adequate access to water, food and electricity, and desperately need health, protection and other essential services and supplies in “territories under Russian occupation”.

“Ukrainians are bravely defending their land against Russia’s brutal invasion, but the past two years of war have had a tragic impact on millions of people across Ukraine. Families have been separated, towns and villages decimated, and vital civilian infrastructure destroyed. The UK stands with Ukraine, and is committed to supporting the most vulnerable Ukrainians living through the horrors of this war,” said UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron.

The announcement follows Cameron’s visit to the United Nations on Friday, where he addressed the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly and reinforced the UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine.

UK funding to Red Cross for emergency response

More than GBP 6 million of the UK funding will support the Red Cross Movement’s neutral and impartial work, reinforcing their existing emergency response projects and their support to the most vulnerable in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, GBP 2.5 million will fund the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, part of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The UK said that its funding supported ongoing emergency responses, preparedness activities, and last-mile aid delivery in frontline areas where local communities had been most affected by recent attacks.

The latest funding is part of GBP 357 million of humanitarian assistance that the UK has committed since the start of the conflict in February 2022. The UK said that its support contributed to an international response that reached 11 million people in Ukraine in 2023 and 15.8 million in 2022.