UK’s new defence minister vows to enhance military aid for Ukraine


KYIV: The UK’s new defence minister pledged on Sunday to deliver more artillery guns, ammunition and missiles to Ukraine, stressing London’s ongoing support for Kyiv during a visit to the southern city of Odesa.

John Healey, appointed defence minister on Friday by new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, was visiting the port city, a frequent target of Russian missile and drone strikes, on his first international trip.

“There may have been a change in government, but the UK is united for Ukraine,” Healey said, according to a statement published by Britain’s defence ministry.

Healey pledged a new package of assistance including artillery guns, 250,000 rounds of ammunition, de-mining vehicles, small military boats, missiles and other equipment, the defence ministry said.

In Odesa, he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Defence Minister Rustem Umerov.

London has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest backers since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Zelensky posted footage showing Healey laying flowers at a memorial to mark Ukraine’s Navy Day.

He said he had briefed Healey and Dutch Defence Minister Ruben Brekelmans — who also took up the post last week — on the situation on the battlefield.

In the capital Kyiv over the weekend, the Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Caspar Veldkamp pledged to begin sending F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine “without delay”.

Britain’s Healey also said a major UK aid package announced in April would be delivered “in full to Ukraine within the next 100 days”.

Kyiv has regularly complained about the late arrival of Western military supplies, which are vital to its outmanned and outgunned forces fighting off the Russian