VLADIMIR Putin has vowed a “response” with “military-political consequences” if the UK supplies Ukraine with fighter jets.
The tyrant’s sabre rattling comes after Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate plea for warplanes to Parliament on a surprise barnstorming visit to the UK.
Rishi Sunak has said “nothing is off the table” after the Ukrainian leader invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill in his address.
A furious Russia hit back with a chilling warning, in a statement issued through its UK embassy.
The “military-political consequences” of what arming Ukraine “will be on the United Kingdom’s hands”, said the Kremlin.
“Russia will know how to respond to any unfriendly actions by the British side."
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Russia also took a swipe at Zelensky, calling him “pompous” and “hypocritical”.
The Ukrainian leader's plea for weapons comes amid mounting concern a renewed Russian offensive is underway.
Russia has amassed a huge arsenal of 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 2,700 artillery systems, 810 multiple-rocket-launch systems, 400 fighter jets, and 300 helicopters, reports Foreign Policy.
"Russia has also begun arming up and digging in for a coming offensive,” it quoted an Ukrainian official as saying.
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The Institute for the Study of War has claimed that Russian forces have regained the initiative in Ukraine and have begun their next major offensive in the eastern Luhansk region.
The Ukrainian leader’s plea came in a 20-minute lunchtime speech to MPs and peers in Parliament’s Westminster Hall.
Former Prime Ministers Liz Truss, Theresa May and Boris Johnson all stood in the vast hall as the sun beamed in through the stained-glass windows behind him.
The leader of war-torn Ukraine even symbolically presented Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet from one of his pilots.
Inscribed on it were the words: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
He said: “I appeal to you and the world with simple and yet most important words: combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom.”
To applause from a packed hall, he also referred to the monarch’s own air force training.
“In Britain, the king is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.”
Zelensky also recalled a visit to the Churchill War Rooms in October 2020 where he said he now realises how the wartime PM felt.
He said: “A guide smiled and offered me to sit down on this armchair from which war orders had been given.”
The PM has now ordered the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to examine ways that the UK can provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
The RAF has a limited number of aircraft it could theoretically provide Ukraine, including about 20 older Typhoon jets.
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In response, Downing Street said Mr Wallace is investigating what aircraft the UK could potentially offer
But it emphasised this was "a long-term solution" and that training pilots could take years.
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