Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky meets Sir Richard Branson in Kyiv

British billionaire Richard Branson has travelled to Ukraine to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky and see some of the devastation wrought by Vladimir ‘Putin’s appalling invasion’ (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)
British billionaire Richard Branson has travelled to Ukraine to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky and see some of the devastation wrought by Vladimir ‘Putin’s appalling invasion’ (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson travelled to Ukraine to meet president Volodymyr Zelensky and see some of the devastation wrought by Vladimir Putin’s “appalling invasion”.

Following an invitation from the Ukrainian leader, the entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group met with Mr Zelensky, foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and a group of Ukrainian business leaders on Wednesday.

Sir Richard said the purpose of the meeting was to “learn what business, in partnership with civil society and governments, can do to support Ukraine most effectively”.

Handout photo issued by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his meeting with Sir Richard Branson in Kyiv, Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his meeting with Sir Richard Branson in Kyiv on Wednesday (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)

After visiting a residential area with a destroyed kindergarten that was recently hit by a Russian missile strike, Sir Richard travelled to Gostomel Airport to see the remains of Antonov AN-225, the world’s largest transport plane that had been known as Mriya (Dream).

Sir Richard said: “It is clear these kinds of attacks are not unintended and arbitrary. They are part of a deliberate strategy to spread fear and terror among Ukraine’s civilian population.

“I hope the Russian perpetrators of these shocking acts will be held to account.”

The Virgin founder called the visit to the war-torn country a “humbling and emotional experience”.

Local resident collects photos of his family left under the rubble after Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday
A local resident collects photos of his family left under the rubble after Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukraine (George Ivanchenko/AP)

“I remembered Kyiv very well from previous visits in 2014 and 2015. It’s a beautiful capital, with a stunning historic cityscape built along the banks of the majestic Dnieper,” he added.

“But the scars of war are inescapable throughout this sprawling city, most notably in the burned-out shells of residential buildings hit by indiscriminate Russian airstrikes and missile attacks.”

In a statement from Mr Zelensky’s office about Sir Richard’s visit, the president said the pair discussed the issue of maintaining the “world’s attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine”.

“The billionaire noted that he constantly supports our state, sovereignty, territorial integrity and the introduction of the toughest sanctions against Russia and those who support and finance the war,” it said.

People watch as smoke bellows after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, on Monday
People watch as smoke bellows after a Russian missile strike hit a crowded shopping mall in Kremenchuk (Viacheslav Priadko/AP)

Meanwhile, in the the country’s long-contested eastern province, Russia continued its bombardment of Ukraine’s last stronghold.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russian forces were making “incremental advances” in their offensive to capture Lysychansk, the last city in the Luhansk province under Ukrainian control following the retreat of Ukraine’s forces from the neighbouring city of Sievierodonetsk.

Crews also continued to search through the rubble of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine where the country’s authorities say 20 people remained missing after a Russian airstrike killed at least 18 two days earlier.

Ukrainian State Emergency Service firefighters work to take away debris at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk
Ukrainian state emergency service firefighters work to take away debris at the shopping centre (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Ukrainian state emergency services press officer Svitlana Rybalko told The Associated Press that along with the 18 people killed, investigators found fragments of eight more bodies.

It was not immediately clear whether that meant there were more victims. A number of survivors suffered severed limbs.

MoD said there was a “realistic possibility” that the mall strike “was intended to hit a nearby infrastructure target”.

People react at a shopping center burned after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Twenty people remain missing after a Russian airstrike killed at least 18 at a shopping centre in Kremenchuk (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

“Russian planners highly likely remain willing to accept a high level of collateral damage when they perceive military necessity in striking a target,” the ministry said.

“It is almost certain that Russia will continue to conduct strikes in an effort to interdict the resupplying of Ukrainian front-line forces.”

Russia’s military is also experiencing a shortage of more modern precision strike weapons, which is compounding civilian casualties, MoD said.

The Kremlin’s troops and their separatist allies control 95% of Luhansk and about half of Donetsk, the two provinces that make up the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

More from The Courier Politics team

More from The Courier