British PM wants to degrade Russian ‘capacity to regroup’

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday that the West should work to degrade “Russia’s capability to regroup” as it continues its war of aggression in Ukraine, citing the drones that Iran has been providing to Moscow.

Sunak spoke at a summit of the Joint Expeditionary Force in the Latvian capital Riga. The U.K.-led force is a group of 10 northern European nations designed to react more quickly in the event of threats like those now posed by Russia.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also spoke by video link of the Iranian Shahed drones that Russia has been using to attack Ukraine, saying 34 were used in the latest nighttime attacks.

“These are Shaheds from the new batch that Russia received from Iran; 250 units, that’s how many drones the terrorist state has now received. Russian missiles and Iranian drones are constantly used to strike,” Zelenskyy said.

Iran has acknowledged supplying Russia with drones, but has insisted that the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Sunak also said the economic consequences for Russia ”must continue to be severe.”

Last week, the European Union approved a new package of sanctions aimed at ramping up pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine. The latest round of sanctions is aimed at Russia’s military-industrial complex, as well as people and groups that are attacking Ukrainian civilians or kidnapping children.

The U.K., which is no longer a member of the EU, has imposed broadly similar sanctions on Russia as the bloc.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was asked to comment on French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion that Russia be provided security guarantees.

”If Russia can give some kind of security guarantees to its neighbors, why not give Russia back a similar level and with similar credibility,” Niinisto told reporters.

The Joint Expeditionary Force includes eight NATO members plus Sweden and Finland, which have applied for NATO membership.

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