UK Prime Minster Boris Johnson has been confronted by a Ukrainian journalist's emotional demand that Britain and its Nato allies enforce a no-fly zone to protect citizens from Russia’s bombs.
Mr Johnson was speaking at a press conference at the British embassy in Warsaw on Tuesday where he demanded an end to the conflict in Ukraine, calling it a “colossal mistake” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre civil society organisation, told the prime minister that she was from Kiev but had crossed the border in recent days.
Ms Kaleniuk became visibly upset as she described the “deep fear” her compatriots have of Russian missiles which are killing women and children across the country.
She also said Nato's reluctance to set up a no-fly zone was misguided because a Third World War “had already started.”
“Ukrainian women and Ukrainian children are in deep fear because of bombs and missiles which are going from the sky”, she told the prime minister. “Ukrainian people are desperately asking for the rights to protect our sky, we are asking for a no-fly zone".
“Nato is not willing to defend because Nato is afraid of World War Three but it’s already started and it’s Ukrainian children who are there taking the hit.
“You are talking about more sanctions prime minister but [Russian oligarch] Roman Abramovich is not sanctioned, he’s in London, his children are not in the bombardments, his children are there in London.”
Mr Johnson said he welcomed her passionate question and was “glad” she had made it to Poland, saying he was “acutely conscious that there is not enough we can do as the UK Government to help in the way that you want”.
Mr Johnson was also asked how he felt as a father when he saw the images of dying Ukrainian children.
Mr Johnson replied: “I think I felt what everybody in the world felt looking at that, that this is absolutely senseless.
“I think Vladimir Putin is a father himself, and no one can possibly understand how he has unleashed this conflict which seems to everybody to be so futile.
“Everybody can see that the Ukrainians are resisting.”
The prime minister said the imposition of a no-fly zone could result in direct conflict with Russian fighter jets, adding that the consequences of such a move “would be truly very, very difficult to control.”
Speaking after she made her plea, Ms Kaleniuk told reporters: “My message is that the suffering of people in Ukraine is unbelievable now.”
“My call to the West is protect our sky,” she said.
She said Ukrainians were “taking guns with zero protection” to “fight the evil” of Russian troops.