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Sunak appointed Britain’s Prime Minister, vows support for Ukraine will be ‘as strong as ever’

Union Jack flag (Vaughan Leiberum/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Newly appointed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to support Ukraine to the “conclusion” of its battle to repel invading Russian troops as the Kremlin said it sees “no grounds” for a positive shift in relations with the United Kingdom.

Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke by phone on October 25 after Sunak, a former finance minister, was invited to form a government by King Charles.

Sunak assured Zelenskiy that the United Kingdom’s support for Ukraine “would be as strong as ever under his premiership, and President Zelenskiy could count on his government to stand in continued solidarity,” a spokeswoman said.

Zelenskiy voiced confidence that ties between Ukraine and Britain would grow.

“I believe that the partnership between our states, as well as Britain’s…leadership in defending democracy and freedom will continue to strengthen further,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation.

The Ukrainian leader also invited Sunak to visit Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said later on Twitter: “In an excellent conversation with @RishiSunak we agreed to write a new chapter in Ukraine-U.K. relations but the story is the same — full support in the face of Russian aggression.”

Sunak, a Hindu, expressed support for Ukraine in some of his first public comments after becoming the United Kingdom’s first leader of color and its youngest prime minister in two centuries.

The 42-year-old told reporters that he fully supports Ukraine in a “terrible war that must be seen successfully to its conclusion.”

Britain, along with the United States, the European Union, and many other Western allies, has been a staunch supporter of Kyiv since Russian forces invaded in late February.

Sunak also spoke by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden on October 25, a Downing Street spokesperson said. Biden told Sunak that “the U.K. remains America’s closest ally.”

The two leaders are set to meet in person at the upcoming Group of 20 (G20) summit in Indonesia.

The U.K.’s support for Ukraine has strained relations with the Kremlin, which said on October 25 that it sees no reason to expect an improvement in ties any time soon.

“At the moment, we see no grounds for hope that there will be any positive changes in the foreseeable future,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow.

“Russia remains open and ready to discuss the most difficult issues at the negotiating table, but not to the detriment of our own interests,” Peskov added.

Sunak replaces Liz Truss, who was brought down after just 44 days in office by her economic program, which roiled financial markets, pushed up living costs for voters, and enraged much of her own party.

Sunak, a multimillionaire former hedge fund boss, told Conservative Party lawmakers in parliament on October 24 that they faced an “existential crisis” and must “unite or die.” He also said Britain faces a “profound economic challenge” and needs stability and unity.