Foreign Secretary James Cleverly heads to US for talks on Ukraine

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is travelling to the US to meet his counterpart in Washington to discuss support for Ukraine following an escalation of Russian attacks.

Mr Cleverly will meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday and other senior Democrat and Republican members of Congress the following day, where he will stress the importance of a "continued, united international front for ensuring a Ukrainian victory", the Foreign Office said.

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The visit follows an escalation of Russian attacks on Ukraine over the past 10 days, with more than 100 drone, missile and airstrikes hitting the country on Monday morning.

The general staff of Ukraine's armed forces said around 16 missile strikes targeted Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions, while 61 airstrikes and 52 rocket salvos also hit populated areas and military positions.

The attacks have been seen as part of the Kremlin's attempts to recapture the narrative ahead of its Second World War Victory Day holiday on 9 May, the annual celebration of Russia's defeat of Nazi Germany.

There have been reports of celebrations being scaled back in some regions over security concerns.

Last week Russia blamed Ukraine after two drone attacks hit President Vladimir Putin's home. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied targeting Mr Putin and accused the president of needing to "motivate" his people as he's had "no victories".

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Mr Cleverly said: "For well over a century the UK and US have been partners of first resort in standing up for freedom and democracy.

"Whether it's standing up for our friends in Ukraine, or promoting transatlantic prosperity through our $1tn investment relationship, the UK-US relationship continues to make life better for our people and the world."

As well as Ukraine, also on the agenda will be the $1tn bilateral investment relationship between the UK and US.

In recent years talks, about a post-Brexit trade deal with the US have stalled, prompting criticism of the government.