Vashu Bhagnani

Mujhe Ek Hindustan UK Mein Banana Hai: Vashu Bhagnani

“Mujhe ek Hindustan UK mein banana hai,” veteran producer Vashu Bhagnani’s words efficiently sum up his dream of leaving a global footprint of the illustrious Indian cinema with his film studio in the UK.

Touted as “one-stop-shop”, Bhagnani’s Pooja Studios emerged as one of the most film-friendly shooting hubs lately. Built over three years ago in the UK, the studio is spread over a large area in the UK’s Luton. It is just “36 miles from London.”

The studio has enabled the shoot for Akshay Kumar-starrers ‘Bellbottom’ and ‘Mission Raniganj’, Rakul Preet Singh’s ‘Cuttputlli’ and Ajay Devgn’s latest ‘Shaitaan’ so far.

Speaking to ANI, Bhagnani opened up about his studio in detail.

” I am a dreamer. At the age of 57, I decided that I would go to London and set up a studio there. Not many people know that I have a studio in the UK. Movies like Bellbottom, Mission Raniganj were filmed at my studio. All coal mine scenes in Raniganj were shot at Pooja Studios. In fact, the scenes portrayed as Dubai and Pakistan in Bellbottom were actually shot at our studio in UK. Almost 80 per cent of Shaitaan was shot there…the big farmhouse which you saw in Shaitaan was created at my studio only,” he shared.

” Over 400 people from India travelled to UK for the shoot of ‘Ganapath’ and ‘Raniganj’. Also, one of my main reasons for establishing this studio was to create jobs for my Indian people and make them explore the world… It’s my dream to be a good developer as well,” he added.

Bhagnani also explained what made him establish the film studio abroad.

” In India, we sometimes face security issues as people come in large numbers on sets … so it becomes difficult for us to shoot,” he said, emphasising he is a true blue Indian and is aiming to make Indian cinema reach different parts of the world.

“I would be lying if I say I am not getting monetary benefits from this studio but my utmost priority is to help my fellow colleagues in the Indian film industry by providing them with a studio which has all the facilities. From best equipment to spacious area and food, the studio has everything. I have put my heart and soul in establishing this studio. It is like a one-stop shop. Come inside you will get everything…1947 se phle Britishers humare yaha aaye the aur ab mujhe unke yaha is studio ke zariye ek Hindustan UK mein banana hai,” Bhagnani said.

However, it was not easy for the ‘Coolie No. 1’ producer to create his studio on the foreign soil.

“Filmmaking is not an easy business. We all have to take risks…From trucks, bikes to little little equipment, we transported everything from India to there…It’s a pain but we did it. I am working in the UK but for India only,” Bhagnani added.

Bhagnani’s passion for cinema knows no bounds. His studio is relatively new but has managed to find a strong foothold in the filmmaking business.

In the coming months, Shahid Kapoor’s Ashwatthama: The Saga Continues will also go on floors there.

“This year we will also start shooting for Shahid’s Ashwatthama: The Saga Continues at our Pooja Studios .. maybe in May or June,” Bhagnani revealed.

Several scenes of Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff-starrer upcoming film ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ have been shot at Bhagnani’s UK studio. 

Bhagnani also shared how the British Film Institute (BFI) has supported them to set up the studio in the UK 

“Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is the first Bollywood production from the British Film Institute (BFI) that has been shot in a grand manner…BFI chief executive Ben Roberts has helped us a lot..he is the main guy,” Bhagnani said.(ANI)

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UK Supports India's Bid For A Permanent Seat At UNSC: British High Commissioner

UK Supports India’s Bid For A Permanent Seat At UNSC: British High Commissioner

The United Kingdom supports India’s candidacy for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), British High Commissioner Alexander Ellis said while adding that New Delhi’s push for reforms will make the institution more effective in dealing with the realities of today.

In ANI Podcast with Smita Prakash, Editor-in-Chief, the British High Commissioner said, “We certainly support India becoming the member of the UNSC as this is why the UNSC reforms are the institutional that reflects to the realities of today.”
“Change in the institution (UNSC) is hard and we need to make them work. Some of them come after the Second World War like UN and UNSC, some came later like World Trade Organization (WTO)… zenith of globalization, the mid-90s and what we want from India is actually to make the effective institution,” he added.

He also gave the example of the International Financial Institutions (IFI) which is the product of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and said that the countries are adapting those to realities of today. He also said that India, for example had also lend money.

British High Commissioner also said that vulnerable states like island nations need greater support so that they can create an impact in the world and hard work is the key to that lock.

“Change in the multilateralisation is hard work. What we are seeing is the creation of new institutions which we will start more,” Ellis said in a podcast with ANI’s Editor-in-Chief.

He also gave the example of the Clinical Trials Registry – India, which is majorly created with the support of UK.

“India will increasingly be part of all of those (Indo-Pacific group, multilateralism) things and including in panel so UK and India but also with other countries try to solve the particular problem,” British High Commissioner said.

On December 1, India assumed the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the second time in its two-year tenure as an elected member of the Council in 2021-22.

India had earlier assumed UNSC presidency in August 2021.

During its December Presidency, India held a “high-level open debate” on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: New Orientation for Reformed Multilateralism (NORMS)” at the Security Council.

Earlier on December 14, The UK extended support for India’s permanent membership at the UNSC.

Dame Barbara Woodward, the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations said, “The Security Council must as others have said become more representative of the world today and the UK has long called for its expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories, as the UK Foreign Secretary publicly reiterated this week – we support new permanent seats for Brazil, Germany, India and Japan.”

The UN Security Council is the premier global body for maintaining International peace and security. The Security Council, the United Nations’ principal crisis-management body, is empowered to impose binding obligations on the 193 UN member states to maintain peace.

The council’s five permanent and ten elected members meet regularly to assess threats to international security, including civil wars, natural disasters, arms proliferation, and terrorism.

Structurally, the council remains largely unchanged since its founding in 1946, stirring debate among members about the need for reforms.

The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, including five permanent member states – China, France, Russian Federation, the United States, and the United Kingdom – and 10 non-permanent member states, which are elected by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). (ANI)

Modi With King Charles III

Modi Discusses Climate Action With King Charles III Of the UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with King Charles III of the UK on the telephone on Tuesday and discussed several subjects including climate change, biodiversity conservation, and solutions for the financing energy transition.

As this was PM Modi’s first conversation with King Charles III after he assumed the Office of Sovereign of the United Kingdom, he conveyed his best wishes to Britain’s monarch for a very successful reign.
A PMO release said that a number of subjects of mutual interest were discussed during the call, including climate action, conservation of biodiversity, and innovative solutions for the financing energy transition.

The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the abiding interest and advocacy of King Charles III on these issues.

The Prime Minister briefed him on India’s priorities for its G20 Presidency, including the propagation of digital public goods.

He also explained the relevance of Mission LiFE – Lifestyle for Environment, through which India seeks to promote environmentally sustainable lifestyles.

The leaders exchanged views on the Commonwealth of Nations and how to further strengthen its functioning.

They also appreciated the role of the Indian community in the UK in acting as a “living bridge” between both countries and enriching bilateral relations.

King Charles III was officially announced as Britain’s monarch in September last year following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

India and UK are engaged in negotiations for the finalization of a Free Trade Agreement. UK Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch visited New Delhi last month to carry forward the FTA negotiations. She held discussions with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. The two sides also discussed bilateral trade and economic relations. (ANI)

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UK Covid Test Mandatory For Travellers From China

UK To Make Covid Test Mandatory For Travellers From China

After India and Japan, the UK is also likely to make Covid-19 tests mandatory for travellers from China after the infection surged in the mainland, Reuters reported citing British media outlets.

The travellers from China have to produce a negative COVID test report.
According to Reuters citing UK media reports, the UK government is all set to announce the new China arrival policy without providing specific details about the time.

This comes at a time when the United States is considering imposing new Covid-19 measures on travellers coming from China amid the surge of new Covid cases, Reuters reported citing a US official.

“There are mounting concerns in the international community on the ongoing COVID-19 surges in China and the lack of transparent data, including viral genomic sequence data, being reported from the PRC,” the officials said, using the initials of the People’s Republic of China, according to Reuters.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Saturday announced that the RT-PCR test had been made mandatory for passengers coming from five countries including China.

“The RT-PCR test to be mandatory for international arrivals from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand. On arrival, if any passenger from these countries is found symptomatic or tests positive for Covid-19 infection, then he/she will be put under quarantine,” Health Minister Mandaviya said in a conversation with ANI.

Taking note of the rising cases of COVID globally, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday said that the Centre and States need to work in “tandem” and in a “collaborative spirit” as was done during the previous surges.

Meanwhile, Japan also imposed Mandatory testing for COVID-19 from December 30 upon arrival for travellers from China due to an increase in the number of confirmed cases there, the Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.

The measure applies to travellers from mainland China and those who visited it within the past seven days. They are required to take a COVID-19 test upon their arrival in Japan. Those who test positive will be quarantined for seven days. The Kyodo news agency said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the decision on Tuesday.

In November, China saw a record increase in local COVID-19 outbreaks. Due to the deterioration of the epidemiological situation, the authorities introduced partial lockdowns in some areas while also forcing their residents to undergo PCR testing on a daily basis.

In particular, starting from November 24, restrictive measures were tightened in a number of China’s major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Against this background, some Chinese cities — Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and others — were hit by mass protests. The rioters demanded the immediate lifting of lockdowns, the abolition of regular PCR testing, and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

On Friday, media reported that about 37 million people in China could have contracted COVID-19 on a single day last week, making the country’s outbreak the largest in the world.

It was noted that up to 248 million people, or nearly 18 per cent of the population, were likely to have contracted the coronavirus in the first 20 days of December.

The Embassy of Japan in Beijing has said that many employees of Japanese firms operating in China are getting infected with COVID-19 and are being asked to work from home, NHK World reported.

Plants are also functioning with lower capacities in China. Speaking to NHK, Yoshikawa Akinobu, head of the Japan External Trade Organization’s office in Qingdao, said that COVID-19 began spreading quickly around December 16. (ANI)

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Nirav Modi UK

Nirav Modi Loses Bid Against Extradition In UK Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court on Thursday denied fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s plea against his extradition to India.

Modi lost the bid to take his fight against extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering to the UK’s Supreme Court.

“The appellant’s application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court is refused,” Lord Justice Stuart Smith said in his statement.

The diamantaire, who fled India in 2018 before details of his alleged involvement in large-scale fraud at the Punjab National Bank became public, has argued there is a high risk of suicide if he is extradited.

In November, Nirav Modi filed an application before the UK High Court for permission to appeal against his extradition to India in the UK Supreme Court. He lost the appeal on Thursday to take his fight against extradition to the UK Supreme Court.

Nirav Modi reportedly filed an application in the High Court in London, seeking permission to appeal against his extradition order, two weeks after a UK court dismissed his plea against extradition back to India.

On November 9, Nirav Modi lost his appeal against extradition to India with a United Kingdom court dismissing his plea. Earlier, the High Court of London (United Kingdom) dismissed the appeal of Nirav Modi, who is wanted in India to face money laundering and fraud cases.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) later welcomed the UK High Court’s decision to reject Nirav’s plea.

“India has been vigorously pursuing the extradition of economic fugitives so that they face justice in India. We welcome the decision of the UK High Court. We want to bring him to India as soon as possible,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi during a press conference.

Nirav Modi, who is a prime accused in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam, had fled India. He lost his appeal after he had moved the High Court in London against extradition on mental health grounds.

The bench of Justice Stuart Smith and Justice Robert Jay of the High Court said there are “no features of psychotic illness”.

The court rejected Nirav Modi’s counsel’s claims that he will die by suicide due to severe depression and said “Nirav Modi neither is nor is very likely to be at the most severe end of the scale of depressive illness”.

“He has so far displayed no features of psychotic illness. Although he has exhibited persistent suicidal ideation, he has neither attempted suicide or deliberate self-harm nor disclosed plans to do so, except in the vaguest and general way,” the court said.

The High Court also noted the steps taken to render Barrack 12 safe and to ensure that there is effective constant monitoring to reduce both the risk of attempted suicide and the prospect of suicide being committed.

The court noted that the Government of India sought the appellant, Nirav Deepak Modi.

Nirav Modi last year had moved the UK High Court against District Judge Sam Goozee’s Westminster Magistrate Court ruling in favour of his extradition. He is presently behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in southeast London. (ANI)

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High Commission

India-UK Free Trade Agreement On Cards

UK’s Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch on Monday begins her India visit with a first face-face meeting with counterpart Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal as the sixth round of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations kicks off between the countries.

Badenoch’s visit marks the sixth round of formal negotiations between the UK and India. The goal of strengthening bilateral ties and reviving talks on an ambitious bilateral trade deal between the two nations, according to an official statement.

Badenoch is scheduled to address both the teams of negotiators teams before the round of talks begin. The negotiations will take place throughout the week

The UK Trade Secretary will also meet with business leaders to better understand their needs for a modern UK – India trade relationship.

This will include a meeting with envoPAP, a UK company investing over 10 million pounds in India to construct a plant producing Fairtrade paper and packaging products.

The talks, the first formal round since July, will aim to reach an agreement to reduce tariffs and expand opportunities for UK services such as financial and legal, making it easier for British businesses to sell to the world’s third-largest economy – with a middle class of 250 million people – by 2050.

“I’m here in New Delhi to kickstart round six of UK-India trade negotiations and meet my counterpart Minister Goyal in person to drive progress on this agreement,” Secretary of State for International Trade Kemi Badenoch said in a statement.

“India and the UK are the 5th and 6th biggest economies in the world. We have a long shared history, and are in pole position to do a deal that will create jobs, encourage growth and boost our 29 billion pounds trading relationship,” added the minister who was appointed to her role this September.

According to the official announcement, major UK brands such as Pret A Manger, Revolut, and Tide have announced plans to expand in India.

Following a franchise deal with Reliance Brands, British coffee and sandwich retailer Pret will build its first outlet in India in early 2023. The chain’s first location will be in Mumbai, as part of a goal to open 100 locations around the country.

“Bringing Pret’s freshly made food and organic coffee to more people around the world is a key part of our transformation strategy, and I’m delighted to be launching Pret in India,” Pano Christou, CEO, of Pret A Manger said.

According to International Director of the Confederation of British Industry, Andy Burwell the UK-India Free Trade Agreement remains a high focus for the industry.

Earlier in October when Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Rishi Sunak on assuming charge as UK Prime Minister, the two leaders emphasized the importance of an early conclusion of “a balanced and comprehensive” Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

India and the UK were looking to conclude the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) pact but missed the deadline after the resignations of former Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

On July 29, the two countries concluded the fifth round of talks for an India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA). (ANI)

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Prince Harry King Charles Coronation

Prince Harry Not On King Charles’ Coronation List: Royal Expert

There’s been quite a lot of noise surrounding the documentary series ‘Harry and Meghan’ which is now on the OTT platform Netflix.

Royal expert Tom Bower recently spoke to Page Six – an entertainment media house based in the US and said that there are very minimal chances that Prince Harry would now be greeted with a warm welcome in the UK.
Tom Bowers told Page Six, “I can’t imagine they’ll be welcome. I don’t think Harry will ever be welcome back in England.”

He also added that there’s a possibility that Harry and Meghan won’t be on the guestlist at Prince Charles III’s coronation either.

Bowers told Page Six that Harry has become an outsider Meghan has equally distanced herself from the rest of the British royal family.

“I think he’s just cutting himself off from it all. You know, he is turning himself into an outcast, and I don’t think anyone’s going to be looking to — to see if he’s welcome here,” Bower said, “And … with her, she’s finished now for sure. And he’s on the verge of being finished.”

According to Bowers, Prince Harry’s relationship with his father King Charles III has also been damaged.

The author of “Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors” told Page Six that “there was never any chance of it (reconciliation between Royal family and Prince Harry and Meghan),” despite the fact that many people believed the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would patch fences following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing on September 8.

“The whole problem is that Charles hates confrontation, and someone who had dinner with him earlier this week told me that he wants to stay out of it,” Bower explained to Page Six.

“But I think that it’ll be impossible for him to stay out of it,” he added.

The royal family hasn’t issued any statement regarding the documentary series so far, as per Page Six. (ANI)

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E-Visa For UK Nationals To India

E-Visa Facility Resumes For UK Nationals Travelling To India

For the first time since the COVID outbreak in March 2020, India is all set to resume the e-Visa facility for UK citizens travelling to India, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, Vikram K Doraiswami announced in a video message on Monday.

Doraiswami said that the service will be made available to the citizens forthwith and the dates will be announced shortly. He further added that the resumption of the facility will enable friends from the UK to travel far more easily to India.
“We are rolling out e-visas once again and this service will be made available to you forthwith. (Dates will be announced shortly). That should enable friends from the UK far more easily to India. So welcome back, e-visas are up ahead and all of our other services including visas at your doorstep remain available to you. We look forward to a good winter season in which everyone gets to celebrate their festivals in India which is the land of festivals,” the High Commissioner said.

The Indian High Commission in London on Monday tweeted, Team @HCI_London is delighted to confirm that the e-Visa facility will again be available for UK nationals travelling to India. A system upgrade is underway & the visa website will soon be ready to receive applications from friends in the UK. Here’s a video on the subject. @MEAIndia.”

Earlier in August, UK Immigration Statistics said that Indian nationals were issued the largest number of UK study, work, and visitor visas.

India has now overtaken China as the largest nationality being issued sponsored study visas in the UK.

India and UK are engaged in negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. On November 28, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasised the importance of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India.

“By 2050, the Indo-Pacific will deliver over half of global growth compared with just a quarter from Europe and North America combined. That’s why we’re joining the Trans-Pacific trade deal, the CPTP, delivering a new FTA with India and pursuing one with Indonesia,” Sunak said in his address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall. (ANI)

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UK Population

For The 1st Time, Christians Are Less Than 50% Of UK Population

For the first time, fewer than half of people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christian, the Census 2021 has revealed, according to a report by BBC News.

The proportion of people who said they were Christian was 46.2%, down from 59.3% in the last census in 2011, said the report. In contrast, the number who said they had no religion increased to 37.2% of the population, up from a quarter.

Those identifying as Muslim rose from 4.9% in 2011 to 6.5% last year. The census is carried out every 10 years by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

People were asked the broad question of what their religion was rather than being asked more specifically about their beliefs or religious practices, in the voluntary question included in the census since 2001.

Ticking “no religion” does not mean having no beliefs, says Prof Linda Woodhead, from King’s College London. “Some will be atheist, a lot will be agnostic – they just say, ‘I don’t really know – and some will be spiritual and be doing spiritual things,” she said, according to the BBC report.

Separately when people were asked about their ethnic group, 81.7% of residents in England and Wales identified as White, down from 86.0% a decade earlier, according to the census.

And 74.4% of the total population identified as White as well as English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish, or British.

The next most common ethnic group was Asian, Asian British, or Asian Welsh accounting for 9.3% of the overall population – 5.5 million people, up from 4.2 million.

The number of people identifying as Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Caribbean, or African was 2.5% of the population, up from 1.8%, taking the figure from 990,000 to 1.5 million.

One in 10 of households across England and Wales are now made up of people from two or more different ethnic groups – an increase from 8.7%, reported the BBC.

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Sunak Foreign Policy Approach To China

Golden Era Is Over: Sunak On Foreign Policy Approach To China

In his first major address on Foreign Policy, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday strongly asserted that the “golden era” between Britain and China is “now over” and that it is time to evolve the approach towards China as the country is posing a systemic challenge to UK’s values and interest with its authoritarian rule.

During his address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at London’s Guildhall, Sunak also criticised the human rights abuses taking place in China while putting forward his stance on foreign policy.
“Let’s be clear, the so-called ‘golden era’ is over, along with the naive idea that trade would lead to social and political reform. We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism,” the UK Prime Minister said in his address.

Speaking further he said, “We are taking a long-term view on China strengthening our resilience and protecting our economic security,” and added that the UK cannot simply ignore China’s global significance.

The UK Prime Minister also expressed concern over the ongoing protests in China against COVID lockdowns and said that instead of listening to people’s concerns, the Chinese government “has chosen to crack down further” as he highlighted the recent arrest and manhandling of BBC reporters in China.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Shanghai, where people were being bundled into police cars. Students have also demonstrated at universities in Beijing and Nanjing.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Shanghai on Sunday afternoon to hold what appeared to be a silent protest near where a demonstration against China’s zero-Covid policy erupted in the early hours.

Demonstrators holding blank pieces of paper and white flowers stood silently at several intersections, the person said under condition of anonymity, before police officers eventually moved to clear the blocked roads.

Sunak was supposed to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia earlier this month however the meeting was called off after NATO members gathered for an emergency meeting following a missile strike in a Polish village near the Ukrainian border.

The Prime Minister listed measures the UK government has taken, including new authority granted under the National Security and Investment Act, to prevent China from restricting its influence in the UK.

Reiterating Britain’s stand on Indo-Pacific, Sunak said the Indo-Pacific will deliver over half of global growth by 2050 compared with just a quarter from Europe and North America combined, which is why Britain joined the Trans-Pacific trade deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), delivering a new FTA with India and pursuing one with Indonesia.

India and the United Kingdom have a multi-dimensional strategic partnership and actively engage in bilateral trade. The two countries agreed to begin formal negotiations for an FTA in January 2022, aiming to advance trade and investment relations between them.

On Ukraine, Sunak said, “We stand by Ukraine and are also reinvigorating our European relationships to tackle challenges like security and tackling migration.”

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his maiden visit to Kyiv after assuming office, the previous week and assured Britain’s continued support to Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Taking to Twitter, the British Prime Minister wrote, “Britain knows what it means to fight for freedom. We are with you all the way @ZelenskyyUa,” as Sunak expressed support for Ukraine.

Earlier in August, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote a letter on Ukraine’s Independence Day, praising the country’s steadfast courage in standing up to Russian “aggression” and promising support from the people of the United Kingdom.

Sunak promised to continue assisting Ukraine’s valiant warriors and declared that Britain will continue to offer humanitarian aid to make sure Ukrainian people have access to food and medicine amid the ongoing war.

He said the UK’s “adversaries and competitors plan for the long-term” as he mentioned Russia and China and said the UK will “make an evolutionary leap in our approach”. (ANI)

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