Ukraine to top agenda at Nato gathering

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Ukraine will be top of the agenda as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace joins his counterparts for a Nato meeting in Brussels.

The second day of the gathering of Nato defence ministers comes after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky toured London, Paris and Brussels as part of efforts to convince allies to arm Kyiv with fighter planes.

The request, which comes as the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion approaches, is the latest plea from Mr Zelensky to Western allies.

The UK is set to become the first nation to start training Ukrainian pilots on Nato-standard aircraft, but the Government has indicated that any possibility of Britain lending jets to Kyiv is a long-term prospect.

Mr Wallace, who met with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov on Tuesday, said that Western allies would continue to “stand in solidarity” with the war-torn country.

“I am very pleased to be back at Nato to continue the vital work to support Ukraine, as well as meeting with my defence counterparts.

“Our important work is ongoing, the UK and our Allies will stand in solidarity with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visit to UK
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to London (Peter Nicholls/PA)

But the meeting also comes amid the backdrop of fresh tensions with China after the US shot down four balloons flying in its airspace this month, with Washington declaring one of them to be a piece of Chinese spyware.

Mr Wallace has been charged with reviewing the UK’s own security measures in the wake of the incidents.

Downing Street also confirmed on Tuesday that Rishi Sunak will travel to Munich this weekend, joining fellow world leaders for a conference on international security.

Last year’s conference, held just before Russia invaded Ukraine, was dominated by concerns over the prospect of conflict in the region.

Boris Johnson, then-prime minister, used a speech at the event to warn Moscow that the West would stand with Ukraine in the event of an invasion.

Mr Sunak’s attendance at the conference, alongside other European leaders, comes amid speculation that London and Brussels are close to reaching a deal over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Ukraine – Russian tensions
Boris Johnson at the Munich Security Conference in Germany last year (Matt Dunham/PA)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are all expected to attend the conference, which will largely focus on the war in Ukraine.

Despite optimism that a deal could be in sight, British officials were not expecting an announcement this week.

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