President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has pushed for fighter jets to ensure his country’s victory over Russia in a dramatic speech before the U.K. Parliament. He also thanked the British people for their support since “Day one” of Moscow’s invasion.
The Ukrainian leader arrived on a Royal Air Force plane in London on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greeted him on the tarmac, tweeting a photo of the two men embracing.
The two leaders held talks inside the Prime Minister’s 10 Downing St. residence before Zelenskyy headed to Parliament. Later Zelenskky is due to hold an audience with the king at Buckingham Palace.
The embattled leader’s surprise visit to Britain in a bid for more advanced weapons comes as Ukraine prepares for an expected Russian offensive and hatches its own plans to retake land held by Moscow’s forces.
Support from Western allies has been key to Ukraine surprisingly stiff defense, and the two sides are engaged in grinding battles.
Hundreds of lawmakers and parliamentary staff filled the 900-year-old Westminster Hall for Zelenskyy’s speech.
The Ukrainian President urged allies to send his country fighter jets, saying combat aircraft would be “wings for freedom.”
In a pointed and dramatic gesture, Zelenskyy presented the Speaker of the House of Commons with a Ukrainian air force helmet, inscribed by a Ukrainian pilot; “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
The President is trying to soften allies’ reluctance to send advanced fighter jets, both because they are complex to fly and for fear of escalating the war.
The U.K. has repeatedly stated that it is not practical to provide the Ukrainian military with British warplanes, but its stance may be changing.
The government said that it would train Ukrainian pilots on “NATO-standard fighter jets,” without saying what kind.
Zelenskyy, who planned to meet later with King Charles III, noted that the British monarch was a qualified military pilot.
“The king is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king,” Zelenskyy opined
Zelenskyy was greeted with applause, cheers and cries of “Slava Ukraini” which means “Glory to Ukraine”, as he arrived in Parliament, where Ukraine’s cause has wide support from both the Conservative government and opposition parties.
“We know Russia will lose and we know victory will change the world.″Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine
Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Sunak and his predecessor, Boris Johnson, who was one of Ukraine’s most vocal backers while he was Prime Minister. Sunak took office in October, 2022 and has pledged to maintain the U.K.’s support.
“Boris, you got others united when it seemed absolutely impossible,” Zelenskyy said.
Zelensky Calls For Stronger Sanctions Against Moscow
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also called for stronger sanctions against Moscow, until “Russia is deprived of any possibility to finance this war.”
Zelenskyy noted that he was speaking on behalf of the brave people of his own country and thanked Britons for their bravery.
“London has stood with Kyiv since Day One,” he emphasized.
Zelenskyy has rallied support for his country repeatedly through such speeches, mostly given remotely, to Western lawmakers.
Support from allies has helped Ukraine mount a surprisingly strong defense and now the two sides are engaged in grinding battles.
Coinciding with the visit, the U.K. government announced a new round of sanctions against six entities that Britain said supplied equipment to the Russian military.
CST, a manufacturer of Russian drones and parts for helicopters used against Ukraine, were among those sanctioned.
Others targeted included five individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s luxury residences, including Boris Titov and Aerostart owner, Viktor Myachin.
READ ALSO: Zelenskyy To Visit UK For First Time Since Russia’s Invasion
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