King Charles hails Ukraine's 'courageous battle for sovereignty' as Nato allies pledged more air defence

King Charles hails Ukraine's 'courageous battle for sovereignty' as Nato allies pledged more air defence
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King Charles hailed Ukraine’s “courageous battle for sovereignty” as Nato allies pledged more air defence to combat attacks by Putin’s military.

As allied foreign ministers met in Brussels, the Monarch sent a message to mark the military alliance’s 75th anniversary.

“As we welcome the citizens of Sweden and Finland to the protection that N.A.T.O. affords, our thoughts remain with the Ukrainian people,” he said.

“In the face of an unprovoked invasion, N.A.T.O. has shown steadfast support for Ukraine in its courageous battle for sovereignty.”

Nato marked 75 years of collective defence across Europe and North America, with its top diplomats vowing to stay the course in Ukraine as better armed Russian troops are making limited advances on the battlefield.

The anniversary comes as the now-32-nation alliance weighs a plan to provide more predictable longer-term military support to Ukraine and to “Trump-proof” against it being derailed by a Donald Trump return to the White House later this year.

Plagued by ammunition shortages, Ukraine this week lowered the military conscription age from 27 to 25 in an effort to replenish its depleted ranks and appealed for additional aid defences to counter increasing Russian ballistic missile attacks.

"I didn't want to spoil the birthday party for Nato, but I felt compelled to deliver a sobering message on behalf of Ukrainians about the state of Russian air attacks on my country, destroying our energy system, our economy, killing civilians," said Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, who attended a meeting of the Nato-Ukraine Council.

He thanked the allies for agreeing to begin identifying Patriot missile battery stocks that could be sent to Ukraine.

The Patriot "is the only system that effectively intercepts ballistic missiles", he added.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken, speaking before meeting Mr Kuleba, said that "support for Ukraine, the determination of every country represented here at Nato, remains rock solid".

"We will do everything we can, allies will do everything that they can, to ensure that Ukraine has what it needs to continue to deal with Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine, aggression that is getting worse with every passing day," he stressed.

"The fight that Ukraine has on its hands is not only Ukraine's fight, it's everyone's fight because the aggression being committed by Russia is not only an aggression against Ukraine and its people, it's an aggression against the very principles that lie at the heart of the international system," he added.

But Republicans in Washington are blocking a huge military aid package for Kyiv, an action blamed for hampering Ukrainian defences and allowing Putin’s forces to gain ground.

British Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron, who has previously warned Republicans not to show “the weakness displayed against Hitler”, emphasised that Ukraine's war with Russia "will be lost if the allies don't step up".

He ruled out Nato troops being sent to Ukraine

However, the peer said he will urge the US Congress to increase its financial support for Kyiv during a visit to the United States next week.

He told the BBC's Ukrainecast: "What Nato is looking at is a Nato mission for Ukraine, not a Nato mission in Ukraine.”

In response to whether he could see Nato boots on the ground in Ukraine, Lord Cameron said "No", adding: "We don't want to give Putin a target like that.

"But fundamentally, for countries like Britain and all those supportive of Ukraine this is a question of political will.

“Do we have the patience? Do we have the will? Are we prepared to give the resources? Now in Britain's case, definitely the answer is yes."

Lord Cameron was in Brussels for the second day of the Nato foreign ministers' meeting, where he again likened the current situation with Russia to the one Britain and France faced at the 1938 Munich Conference with Nazi Germany.

He said: "What we face today is as simple as then. We have a tyrant in Europe who is trying to redraw borders by force, and there are two choices. You can appease that approach or you can confront that approach.”

The Ukraine foreign ministers’ meeting, which ran significantly beyond its scheduled time, was held after a ceremony to mark the day Nato's founding treaty was signed: April 4 1949 in Washington.

A bigger celebration is planned when Nato leaders meet in Washington from July 9 to 11.

Vladimir Putin said he launched the war, in part at least, because Nato was expanding closer to Russia's borders.

As an organisation, the western military alliance only provides non-lethal support such as transport vehicles, fuel, combat rations, medical supplies and demining equipment to Ukraine.

However, many members provide arms and ammunition bilaterally or in groups.