Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today channelled Winston Churchill’s wartime defiance as he delivered a historic address to the House of Commons from his war-ravaged country, vowing ‘we will not give up’.
Mr Zelensky was given a standing ovation by MPs both before and after his speech in which he compared Ukraine’s fight against Russia to Britain’s Second World War struggle against Nazi Germany.
Drawing on Churchill’s iconic ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ wartime address in June 1940, he said Ukrainians will fight against Moscow’s forces on land, sea and in the air.
Mr Zelensky said: ‘We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost.
‘We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.’
He said Ukraine was fighting a ‘war that we didn’t start and we didn’t want’ as he told MPs ‘we do not want to lose what we have, what is ours’.
Comparing Ukraine to the UK standing alone more than 80 years ago, Mr Zelensky said Ukrainians are fighting to save their country ‘just the same way as you once didn’t want to lose your country when Nazis started to fight your country and you had to fight for Britain’.
He also said more than 50 children have now been killed in the Russian invasion, telling the Commons: ‘These are the children that could have lived, but these people have taken them away from us.’
Boris Johnson responded to the address by telling MPs that ‘Britain and our allies are determined to press on with supplying our Ukrainian friends with the weapons they need to defend their homeland as they deserve’.
The Prime Minister said the UK will also ‘press on with tightening the economic vice around Vladimir Putin and we will stop importing Russian oil’.
He added: ‘We will employ every method that we can – diplomatic, humanitarian and economic – until Vladimir Putin has failed in this disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more.’
The address by Mr Zelensky came as the UK Government faced mounting criticism over its visa scheme for Ukrainian refugees.
Ministers have been slammed by critics over the slow pace of processing applications amid wider calls for Britain to put in place a more generous scheme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion.
The Government is now scrambling to improve the situation, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace having offered military support to the Home Office to help deal with the backlog of people trying to get into the UK.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced a new visa processing centre is being set up in Lille in northern France following reports that refugees arriving in Calais were being told they must go to Paris or Brussels to apply.
Mr Johnson delivered an update on the Ukraine crisis to his Cabinet this morning. Downing Street said the PM told his senior ministers that the UK is continuing to supply ‘lethal defensive aid and equipment’ to bolster the Ukrainian forces’ ‘heroic’ resistance in the face of the Russian onslaught.
The premier said the UK would be ‘as generous as we could’ in its support for Ukrainian refugees.
Mr Johnson also hosted a meeting of the leaders of the Visegrad group of countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland – during which he labelled Vladimir Putin’s invasion a ‘catastrophic venture’.