Ukraine hails Bakhmut gains as Zelensky on UK visit

Ukraine hailed on Monday its advances around frontline Bakhmut and President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in London to seek fresh aid as expectations built over a spring offensive.

Ahead of Zelensky's talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Britain pledged "hundreds" of both air-defence missiles and long-range attack drones to fend off Russia's invasion.

"This is a crucial moment in Ukraine's resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke," Sunak said before the talks and as China was to send an envoy to Kiev for a two-day visit.

Ukraine has announced a series of territorial advances in recent days on the flanks of Russian positions near the flashpoint town of Bakhmut, prompting finger-pointing and concern among Moscow's forces.

"The advance of our troops in the Bakhmut direction is the first success of the offensive in the course of the operation to defend Bakhmut," said commander of the Ukrainian ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi. 

The timing and focus of an expected Ukrainian offensive are unclear, but Zelensky has made a fresh tour of European capitals in recent days to bolster support.

Britain said Monday that it would deliver "hundreds" of both air-defence missiles and long-range attack drones to Ukraine, as Sunak prepared to host Zelensky for talks.

Western heavy weapons and ammunition are key to preparations for Ukraine's high-stakes fightback, which could mark a turning point in the war.

Sunak noted that the talks were taking place in the buildup to a Council of Europe leaders' meeting in Iceland -- which Zelensky will address by video -- and a G7 summit in Japan.

"We must not let them down," the prime minister said in a statement.

"The front lines of (President...

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