Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a moving address to British Parliament on Tuesday — pleading for more help while echoing Winston Churchill’s famed defiant speech against the Nazis in 1940.
Zelensky urged the UK to step up its economic sanctions against Russia and to “make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe” — receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of pols both before and after his speech.
“We will not give up. We will not lose,” Zelensky said, joining the chamber by video conference from Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.
“We will fight till the end at sea and in the air,” Zelensky said, echoing then-British Prime Minister Churchill’s pledge to fight an expected Nazi attack on Great Britain during World War II.
“We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets,” said Zelensky, whose country was invaded by Russia on Feb. 24 and continues to be bombed and shot at by encroaching Russian troops. “We are looking for your help.”
Zelensky also cited Shakespeare while saying his country was fighting a war for its very existence.
“The question for us now is, to be or not to be?” he said. “I can give you a definitive answer — it’s definitely, ‘Yes. To be.’”
Zelensky claimed that Ukrainian forces had killed more than 10,000 Russian troops in 13 days of intense fighting. The Pentagon on Tuesday estimated the figure at between 2,000 and 4,000.
“We are the country saving people despite having to fight one of the biggest armies in the world,” the Ukraine leader said.
Zelensky stopped short of explicitly asking for a no-fly zone over his country — which would put NATO jets in direct combat with Russian planes — a demand he had made in multiple addresses to Ukraine and the Western world last week. The Ukrainian president instead asked British lawmakers to “make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe.”
Several NATO member countries still fly the same Soviet-era fighter planes as Ukraine, and Zelensky has previously asked for the aircraft to replenish the Ukrainian Air Force.
Zelensky thanked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his support so far and requested Johnson to turn up the heat on the Kremlin.
“I’m very grateful to you, Boris,” Zelensky said. “Please increase the pressure of sanctions against [Russia] and please recognize [Russia] as a terrorist state.”
“Best of all to Ukraine and to the United Kingdom,” he said before raising his fist in a salute.
Immediately after, Johnson pledged to keep up the economic pressure on Russia.
“I know I speak for the whole house when I say that Britain and our allies are determined to press on,” Johnson said. “To press on with supplying our Ukrainian friends with the weapons they need to defend their homeland, to press on with tightening the economic vice around Vladimir Putin, and we will stop importing Russian oil.
“We will employ every method we can — diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic — until Vladimir Putin has failed in this disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more.”