UK pledges more aid to Ukraine as Europe celebrates VE Day

LONDON (AP) — Britain will provide an additional 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support to Ukraine to help the country defend against Russian forces, officials said Sunday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden and leaders of other Group of Seven countries are expected to speak online with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday to discuss additional support.

The meeting is partly meant to show unity among Western allies on VE Day, which marks the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

The funding, which comes from UK government reserves, includes £300m of military equipment pledged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week, such as radar systems to target Russian artillery, GPS jamming equipment and night vision devices.

The British government said it was the highest rate of British military spending for a conflict since Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials said Johnson would meet with British arms companies later this month to discuss increasing production in response to demand created by the conflict in Ukraine.

Johnson said British aid to Ukraine would also help boost Britain’s defense economy.

Britain has already pledged around £1.5 billion to Ukraine, including humanitarian aid and loan guarantees.

Also on Sunday, the Croatian Prime Minister visited Ukraine following reports that a Croatian citizen fighting in Mariupol had been captured by Russian forces.

The Croatian government said in a statement that Andrej Plenkovic’s visit presented “an expression of solidarity and support” with the Ukrainian leadership and the people.

“Croatia knows what it is like to be under military aggression and it continues to offer political, diplomatic, financial, humanitarian, technical and any other possible assistance to Ukraine,” the statement said.

Plenkovic met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials. The delegation included the Croatian Ambassador to Ukraine who will remain at the Embassy in Kyiv.

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