Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed a joint meeting of the UK Parliament in the Palace of Westminster in London.
Walking on stage shortly after 1pm local time on Wednesday (8 February), President Zelensky was greeted by rapturous applause and cheers from members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Introducing President Zelensky, Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle spoke about his first meeting with the Ukrainian head of state in October 2020, and about Zelensky's remote speech to the House of Commons on 8 March 2022, describing it as "devastating and powerful". The Speaker said they were "honoured that you have put yourself at risk to address us and again shine a light on the fact that your country is still fighting for its survival".
Before handing over to President Zelensky, Lindsay Hoyle finished by saying, "We will always be united in our unwavering belief in democracy. Slava Ukraini!"
"Thank you Britain."
Speaking for some 20 minutes, President Zelensky began by thanking the United Kingdom for its support in training Ukrainian soldiers, also recounting his first visit to London approximately two and a half years ago.
"On behalf of our war heroes, who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire, on behalf of our air gunners and every defender of the sky who protects Ukraine against enemy aircraft and missiles, on behalf of our tankmen who fight to restore our Ukrainian borders, on behalf of our conscripts who are being trained now including here in Britain, thank you Britain."
Addressing former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally, who was Prime Minister during the first five months of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Zelensky said:
"You got others united when it seemed absolutely, absolutely impossible, thank you. You, all of you showed your grit and character back then, strong British character. You didn't compromise Ukraine, and hence you didn't compromise your ideals, and thus you didn't compromise the spirit of these great islands, thank you very much."
"Any aggressor is going to lose."
After speaking about the UK's and Ukraine's shared history of prevailing in times of adversity, Zelensky then issued a warning to future aggressors:
"We know freedom will win. We know Russia will lose. And we really know that the victory...will change the world. And this will be a change that the world has long needed. The United Kingdom is marching with us towards the most, I think, the most important victory of our lifetime. It will be a victory over the very idea of the war. After we win together, any aggressor, it doesn't matter big or small, will know what awaits him if he attacks international order. Any aggressor who will try to push boundaries by force, who will inflict destruction and death on other peoples...any aggressor is going to lose."
"Anyone who invests in violence must compensate those who suffer from terror."
Zelensky continued: "We have already achieved remarkable results, and we must make every effort to turn our achievements into the foundations of future global security architecture. The world needs [British] leadership just as it needs Ukrainian bravery."
Speaking about the unity that has emerged among many countries in the wake of the February 2022 invasion, Zelensky said:
"Most importantly, together with the G7, we brought about a coalition of values. A coalition that protects the rules-based world order and human rights. A coalition that will work in such a way that over time there will simply be no grey areas where human life doesn't matter. In order for it to be so, there must be justice. Anyone who invests in terror, must be held accountable. Anyone who invests in violence must compensate those who suffer from terror."
Zelensky then went on to thank British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for his support for the so-called international tank coalition, for the UK's decision to supply Challenger 2 tanks, and for the ongoing support in training Ukrainian conscripts in the UK.
"We have freedom, give us wings to protect it."
Having spoken about his coming meeting this afternoon with King Charles, Zelensky remarked that "the King is an air force pilot, and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king." He then presented Speaker Hoyle with a helmet of a real Ukrainian pilot, "one of the most successful aces and one of our kings."
Echoing a plea from Ukraine for allies to supply them with fighter jets, on the helmet were written the words, "We have freedom, give us wings to protect it." Zelensky continued, "I trust this symbol will help us for our next coalition, the coalition of the planes, and I appeal to you and the world with simple and yet most important words. Combat aircraft for Ukraine. Wings for freedom."
Delicious English tea, powerful English planes
Met with chuckles of laughter and applause in wrapping up his speech, Zelensky said: "Thank you for your attention, thank you for your support, and leaving the British parliament two years ago, I thanked [Speaker Hoyle] for delicious English tea. And I will be leaving the parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes."
He ended by saying, "God bless Great Britain, long live the King, Slava Ukraini."
source: commonspace.eu with President of Ukraine