Zelenskyy cheered as he says ‘freedom will win’ during historic UK address

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has received a standing ovation and cheers from parliament as he called on the UK and the West to provide Ukraine with fighter jets during a surprise visit to London.

The Ukrainian president is the first foreign leader to address parliamentarians in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of parliament, since former Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now in jail, in 2012.

Wearing his usual outfit of military fatigues, Mr Zelenskyy entered the famous hall, where the Queen’s coffin lay in state, to a standing ovation and cheers from MPs and peers.

Zelenskyy makes direct appeal for UK to send jets – live politics latest

He said: “We will always come out on top of evil.

“We know freedom will win. We know Russia will lose.”

He thanked “all the people of England and Scotland, of Wales and Northern Ireland” for their support, on behalf of “our fighters who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received a handful of mentions from his Ukrainian counterpart, especially as he thanked the PM for providing more equipment to his country.

After saying he will “have the honour” to meet King Charles, Mr Zelenskyy presented the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, with a signed helmet from “one of our most successful” Ukrainian Air Force pilots.

“He’s one of our kings,” he said.

“And the writing on the helmet reads: ‘We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it’.”

He added: “In Britain, the King is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.”

Tea jokes and plea for planes

Mr Zelenskyy said he hoped the symbol of the helmet will help for their “next coalition of planes”.

He added: “I appeal to you, and the word is simple, and the most important words: Combat aircraft for Ukraine are wings for freedom.”

The Ukrainian president finished his speech by thanking parliamentarians for their support.

“And leaving British parliament two years ago, I thanked you for delicious English tea,” he said to laughter.

“And I will be leaving the parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes.

“God bless Great Britain and long, long live the King. Slava Ukraini.”

Mr Zelenskyy was then driven to Buckingham Palace to have a meeting with the King, who was seen dashing back from an appointment through Westminster.

Following the speech, Mr Sunak asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to investigate what jets the UK could give to Ukraine.

Putin ‘approved supplying missile that shot down MH17’ – war latest

Boris Johnson gets personal thanks

Former prime minister Boris Johnson, who has a close relationship with Mr Zelenskyy and has been one of Ukraine’s most vocal backers, was spotted in the crowd of politicians.

“You did not compromise your ideals and thus you didn’t compromise the spirit of this great alliance. Thank you very much,” he added.

Read more from Sky News:

Putin ‘playing for time’ to ‘bomb his way to negotiating table’

Bodies of British volunteers returned in prisoner swap with Russia

Winston Churchill’s war chair

He received one of many ovations after saying: “Do you have a feeling that the evil will crumble once again? I can see in your eyes now we think the same way as you do.

“We know freedom will win. We know. We know Russia will lose.

“And we really know the victory. The victory will change the world. And this will be a change that the world has long needed.”

Winston Churchill also got a mention as Mr Zelenskyy said two and a half years ago he came to London, when he had just been made president, and sat in Winston Churchill’s armchair “from which war orders were given” at the Churchill War Rooms.

“I certainly felt something, but it is only now that I know what the feeling was – and all Ukrainians know it perfectly well too,” he told parliamentarians.

“It is the feeling of how bravery takes you through the most unimaginable hardships to finally reward you with victory.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your bravery, from all of us.”

Surprise visit

The unannounced visit was only Mr Zelenskyy’s second outside Ukraine since Russia invaded last February. He travelled to the United States just before Christmas and stopped off in Poland on the way back.

Moments after Mr Zelenskyy arrived, the UK imposed further sanctions on companies supplying equipment to Russia for the war and Russians connected to “nefarious financial networks”, helping the Kremlin elites maintain wealth and power.

Mr Sunak also announced an “immediate” surge of military equipment for Ukraine, an offer to train 20,000 more Ukrainian troops, plus training for fighter jet pilots so they can fly NATO-standard fighter jets, and a training programme for marines.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *