Former Ukraine president says ‘unity’ of West surprised Putin’

Ukraine: ‘Unity surprised Putin’ says Petro Poroshenko

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Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has praised the “unity” of the West and of Ukrainian people as pivotal in the defeat of Russian forces. The leader of the opposition, addressing questions about support for President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that faced with war, the people of Ukraine had suspended their political differences and were “all soldiers” united to repel Russia’s brutal invasion. He added that the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which Mr Poroshenko helped to form, were “demonstrating their efficiency” and that they were the “real heroes” who were ensuring victory. 

Mr Poroshenko said: “I am not the leader of the opposition. Zelensky is not the President. All of us are soldiers. 

“We are united to stop Russian aggression. This unity, unity of all Ukrianians, surprised Putin. It is definitely not what he expected. 

“The unity of the whole world, the UK and the US, together with the other member states, is also a factor in our victory. 

“But the most important thing is for the Ukrainian people to support the Armed Forces who are the real heroes, the real diplomats, and who definitely bring victory. 

“I am proud that in 2014, we created the new Ukrainian Armed Forces, which now demonstrates its efficiency.

“And now the whole of Ukraine, including President Zelensky, are united around the Armed Forces.” 

Mr Zelensky is meeting with G7 leaders on Tuesday to discuss ramping up support in light of Russia’s mass bombings of cities across Ukraine on Monday and into Tuesday morning, in further evidence of the West’s continued support against Putin’s invasion. 

The Ukrainian President is expected to ask fellow world leaders for more air defence supplies, with US President Joe Biden already pledging to offer more weaponry. 

It comes as Canada said on Tuesday it will send 40 more combat engineers to help support Polish efforts to train Ukrainian forces, as part of its commitment to increasing military aid for Ukraine.

The Canadian Armed Forces have trained more than 33,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel since 2015, but have paused aspects of the training effort since February.

“Today, I am announcing that in the coming weeks, Canada will deploy approximately 40 combat engineers to Poland to help Polish Forces train Ukrainian sappers on engineer reconnaissance, explosives, mining and de-mining,” Canada’s defence minister Anita Anand told a news conference in Warsaw.

Canadian forces have also helped the Polish military and government in supporting refugee reception centres and have helped support Britain-based training programmes.

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Ms Anand said the additional training “will complement Canadian training of new Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom, and Canadian training of Ukrainian personnel on the use of the M777 howitzers that we donated to Ukraine”. 

Russia rained cruise missiles on Ukrainian cities on Monday in what the United States called “horrific strikes”, killing civilians and knocking out power supplies, in its most widespread air attacks since the start of the war in February.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” that it says is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists. It has denied deliberately attacking civilians.

But the death toll from Monday’s attacks is at least 18 with more expected to be discovered among the destruction. 

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