Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky Tuesday delivered a recorded message to British MPs quoting Shakespeare and Churchill calling for additional support to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his diplomatic efforts regarding the ongoing war.
Zelensky's speech was broadcast on video and translated simultaneously. The President cried Ukrainians did not want to lose their country and called for more support from the international community. At the end of his statement, the representatives of the British Parliament gave him a standing ovation.
Russian terror is against the whole world, the Ukrainian leader said as he quoted English writer William Shakespeare and former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
The question for us now is to be or not to be...I can give a definite answer: it is definitely to be, Zelensky said.
During his stirring address, made remotely from Ukraine’s embattled capital of Kyiv, Zelensky told a packed meeting of London’s House of Commons that “We will not give up. We will not lose. We will fight till the end at sea and in the air. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
Zelensky received rousing, standing ovations from British lawmakers before and after he spoke. His defiant remarks evoked those that Churchill delivered in the same chamber June 4, 1940, when the British leader made a clear appeal to the US for aid amid fears that a Nazi invasion of England was looming.
Zelensky also thanked Prime Minister Johnson for supporting Ukraine against Russia but said the UK and other Western countries needed to go further. He called for more international sanctions beyond those already imposed against Moscow, a flight restriction zone over Ukraine, and for the West to recognize Russia as a terrorist state.
Churchill’s speech had followed “Operation Dynamo,” the massive evacuation of around 340,000 British, French and Belgian troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk to escape a deadly military pincer movement following the Nazi Blitzkrieg.
Zelensky insisted: “We are looking for your help.” He claimed Ukrainian forces had killed more than 10,000 Russian troops in the 13 days since Russia invaded Feb. 24. “We are the country saving people despite having to fight one of the biggest armies in the world,” he said. The Pentagon Tuesday estimated the number of slain Russian soldiers at between 2,000 and 4,000.
Zelensky urged the UK to step up economic sanctions against Russia and to “make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe” but stopped short of repeating his call for a no-fly zone that both NATO and the US last week rejected as too risky, saying it would put allied jets in direct conflict with Russia’s military.
Several NATO member countries still fly the same Soviet-era fighter planes as Ukraine, and Zelensky has previously asked for those aircraft to help replenish the Ukrainian air force.
“I know I speak for the whole house when I say that Britain and our allies are determined to press on,” Johnson said. “To press on with supplying our Ukrainian friends with the weapons they need to defend their homeland, to press on with tightening the economic vice around Vladimir Putin, and we will stop importing Russian oil.
“We will employ every method we can — diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic — until Vladimir Putin has failed in this disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more.”