Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelenskyy invokes Churchill with plea to UK's House of Commons

Ukrainian president borrows from William Shakespeare to tell UK MPs Ukraine will 'fight in the forests'

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invoked William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill in an address to the British Parliament, pleading for sanctions, weapons and safe skies.

“You didn't want to lose your country when Nazis wanted to take your country,” he said. “And you had to fight for Britain.”

Taking inspiration from Churchill's “fight them on the beaches” speech during the Second World War, Mr Zelenskyy said: “We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, the fields, the shores and in the streets.”

He also paraphrased Shakespeare's Hamlet to tell MPs Ukraine was determined “to be” .

Mr Zelenskyy thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson and called on the UK for more support.

“We are looking for your help, for the help of western counties. We are thankful for this help, and I am grateful to you, Boris," he said.

MPs give a standing ovation after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed MPs in the House of Commons. PA

“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.”

The address came shortly after the US and the UK announced the phasing out of imported Russian oil and oil products.

He took MPs and lords through 13 days of life under Russian fire.

Mr Zelenskyy said Ukraine faced a dilemma similar to the one Britain faced in the Second World War.

“In his [Zelenskyy's] righteous defence I believe he has moved the hearts of everybody in this House," Mr Johnson said.

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

Mr Johnson said the UK would be as generous as possible to Ukrainians fleeing the war as criticism continued over the glacial pace of processing visa applications.

He told his Cabinet the UK was continuing to supply “lethal defensive aid and equipment” to bolster the Ukrainian forces' “heroic” resistance, a government spokesman said.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said on Monday that he had granted the request for Mr Zelenskyy to read a statement on the Russian crisis.

“Every parliamentarian wants to hear directly from the president, who will be speaking to us live from Ukraine, so this is an important opportunity for the House,” Mr Hoyle said.

MPs watch the speech on screens that were installed overnight above either side of the chamber, officials said.

More than 500 headsets were made available to enable the UK’s elected representatives to hear a translation into English.

Later during his daily address to Ukraine, Mr Zelenskyy said Britain’s move to punish Vladimir Putin by phasing out Russian oil by the end of the year will send a “powerful signal” to the world.

Mr Zelenskyy welcomed the announcement coordinated between the US and UK on Tuesday to hurt Russia financially over its invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a powerful signal to the whole world," Mr Zelenskyy went on to say.

“Either Russia will respect international law and not wage wars, or it will have no money.”

Updated: March 09, 2022, 4:05 AM
NEWSLETTERS
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL