Zelenskiy invokes Churchill in call for UK to do more to help Ukraine

President tells Commons Ukraine will fight Russia ‘in the forests, the fields, the shores and in the streets’

The president of Ukraine echoed Winston Churchill and invoked the fight against Nazism as he made a direct plea to Britain to do more to help protect his country in the fight against the Russian invasion.

In an unprecedented and emotional speech broadcast live to the House of Commons, Volodymyr Zelenskiy channelled Churchill when he told a packed chamber: "We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, the fields, the shores and in the streets."

Ukraine "will not lose" to Russia, he vowed. Mr Zelenskiy, who received long ovations from MPs before and after his speech, also cited Shakespeare to describe the plight of his country under Russian invasion, saying it was a question of "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, to be,” he said, according to a translation of his speech, which was delivered in Ukrainian and broadcast live from Kyiv.


"And I would like to remind you the words that the United Kingdom has already heard, which are important again. We will not give up and we will not lose."

He told MPs that after nearly two weeks of war, during which time hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have been killed, resolve remained strong.

“Just the same way you once didn’t want to lose your country when the Nazis started to fight your country and you had to fight for Britain. Thirteen days of this struggle . . . at four o’clock in the morning we were attacked by cruise missiles.”

Mr Zelenskiy reiterated calls for more UK support, including repeating a call for a no-fly zone, which Nato countries have declined to impose over fears it could trigger another world war.

‘Standing firm’

“We are thankful for this help and I am grateful to you Boris,” he said, addressing the prime minister by name. “Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country [Russia] and please recognise this country as a terrorist country. Please make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.”

Responding to Mr Zelenskiy, British prime minister Boris Johnson hailed the Ukrainian president as a leader "standing firm for democracy and freedom – in his righteous defiance I believe he has moved the hearts of everybody in this house".

Saying he would “employ every method” to squeeze Russia with sanctions, Mr Johnson said the UK would continue to supply weapons to Ukraine.

“At this moment, ordinary Ukrainians are defending their homes and their families against a brutal assault, and they are by their actions inspiring millions with their courage and their devotion,” he said.

Because of Commons procedures, the speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, halted the formal business of the day for Mr Zelenskiy’s speech, and Mr Johnson and other party leaders responded with points of order.

– Guardian