Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a historic address to the British Parliament via video as he spoke directly to British MPs. He was greeted with applause and a standing ovation when he appeared before the House of Commons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky echoed Winston Churchill in a historic address to MPs and peers, promising to fight Russia “in the forests, in the fields, on the shores and in the streets”.
Zelensky alluded to his previous call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, urging the UK to help ensure “the heaven is safe” and called for tougher penalties.
He also echoed William Shakespeare when he said the question facing Ukraine was “to be or not to be”.
“For 13 days this question could have been asked, but now I can give you a definitive answer. It’s definitely yes, be,” he said.
“And I would like to remind you [of] the words the UK has heard before, which are important again. We won’t give up and we won’t lose.
“We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air, we will continue to fight for our land. Whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.
Zelensky said that he was addressing the UK parliament ‘as a citizen, as a president of a big country, with a dream’ – comparing his country’s fight against Russia to the British war effort against Nazi Germany: ‘You didn’t want to lose your country when Nazis wanted to take your country.’ He drew parallels between the UK’s decision to fight then with Ukraine’s now – offering an update of the circumstances the Ukrainian people now find themselves in.
He further said that more than 15 children had died in the war – adding that these children need not have lost their lives. As for the future state of play, he said the shelling had not and would not break his country. He drew another world war two comparison as he invoked Winston Churchill and said Ukraine ‘will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, the fields, the shores and in the streets.’ So, what of the UK response? Zelensky welcomed the sanctions announced so far and the decision to investigate Russia for war crimes. As expected, he reiterated his call for a no-fly zone.
When he finished speaking, there was once again mass applause. Party leaders then lined up to speak of their admiration and offer their support. Boris Johnson said the UK stood with Ukraine and promised a Russia oil ban – of which full details will be unveiled on Wednesday. Keir Starmer said Labour stood with Ukraine while the SNP’s Ian Blackford said the country must do all it can to send Ukraine the support it needs. While there were plenty of warm words and new promises of financial actions against Russia, Zelensky’s key wish for a no-fly zone remains a no-go for all the main political parties.