Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has made his first visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the war with Russia.
Starmer made the trip to Kyiv on Thursday 16 February and met President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit. The leader of the opposition made a vow to continue the UK’s support of Ukraine if he were to become Prime Minister at the next general election.
Speaking of his party’s commitment to continuing support for Ukraine, Starmer said: “Should there be an election next year and a change of government, the position on Ukraine will remain the same.
“It’s very important for me to be here in Ukraine with the people of Ukraine where heavy fighting took place in the first few months of the conflict, making it clear that support for Ukraine in the United Kingdom is united. Throughout the conflict, the Labour party has stood united with the Government in the United Kingdom to show our support for Ukraine.”
It comes after Zelensky made his first visit to the UK since Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ukrainian leader addressed MPs at the Houses of Parliament on 8 February and later he met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss further support.
Starmer spoke to reporters in Irpin, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital. He is due to also visit Bucha, an area which hit the headlines after mass graves were found after Russian occupation.
What did Keir Starmer say to Volodymyr Zelensky?
Starmer met with Zelensky face-to-face in Kyiv. The Labour leader told the Ukrainian president that under a Labour government, the country would have “unwaivering support”.
In a statement issued by the party, Starmer said: “I had a very constructive meeting with President Zelensky, and we were able to discuss the support that Ukraine needs and the justice that it deserves. We spoke about the need for that justice to cover both the use of Russian state assets for reconstruction and the need for there to be prosecutions for war crimes.
“I was able to tell him that should there be a change of government when we have a general election here, the support for Ukraine will remain the same. It’s a very important message for me to be able to relay to the president face to face, and I’ve been able to do that this afternoon.”
He added that the pair spoke about “a range of issues” including the supply of weapons - a topic Zelensky has travelled over Europe to discuss with Western leaders. Starmer added: “I’ve said throughout this conflict there will be no difference between the political parties on this, so we will continue to work with the Government to see what further support we can provide.”
Earlier in the day, Starmer spoke to reporters in Irpin, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital. He said “It’s incredible to see the evidence of atrocities that I’ve seen this morning. Photographs of civilians in the outskirts of Kyiv blindfolded, with their arms tied behind their back.
“There has to be justice for this. There has to be justice in The Hague and there has to be proper reparation in the rebuilding of Ukraine.”