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Zelensky urges Britain to stand firm against Russian in Westminster Hall address

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Boris Johnson urged the UK to offer all its fighter jets and tanks to Ukraine today after Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emotional address to MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall.

The ex-PM said the ‘best use’ for the UK’s 100 Typhoon jets and similar stocks of Challenger tanks was in the battle against Russian aggression. But while No10 has already pledged to send some tanks, it has held back on jets, warning that training pilots could take years. 

The call came after the Ukrainian President was given a rapturous reception at the Palace of Westminster on his first visit to Britain since the invasion. 

Watched by Rishi Sunak, and with Mr Johnson in the audience, Mr Zelensky insisted that more help will be needed to defeat the Russian aggressors. He presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet signed by one of Kyiv’s top pilots and appealed for the UK to supply ‘powerful’ aircraft – after Mr Sunak announced that Britain will train forces in how to fly them. 

The message on the helmet reads: ‘We have freedom, give us wings to protect it.’ 

Amid splits within Nato on how far to go in suppling air power, Mr Zelensky added: ‘Combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom.’

Mr Zelensky said he had come on behalf of the ‘brave’ who were ‘in the trenches under enemy artillery fire’. ‘We know Russia will lose. We really know that victory will change the world.’ 

Mr Zelensky singled out Mr Johnson for praise for helping unite the international community behind Ukraine when it seemed ‘impossible’. 

‘The people of the United Kingdom and their honourable representatives, all the people of England and Scotland, of Wales and Northern Ireland, of all the lands which have been home to brave souls since Europe came into existence,’ Mr Zelensky said.

‘I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the brave, on behalf of our war heroes who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire, on behalf of our air gunners, and every defender of the sky who protects Ukraine against enemy aircraft and missiles, on behalf of our tank men who fight to restore our Ukrainian borders, on behalf of our conscripts who are being trained now including here in Britain.

‘Thank you, Britain.’

Mr Zelensky said: ‘London has stood with Kyiv since day one, from the first seconds and minutes of the full-scale war, Great Britain you extended your helping hand when the world had not yet come to understand how to react.

‘Boris: you got others united when it seemed absolutely impossible. Thank you.’

Speaking in Westminster Hall, Volodymyr Zelensky said he had come on behalf of the ‘brave’ who were ‘in the trenches under enemy artillery fire’. ‘We know Russia will lose. We really know that victory will change the world.’ 

Many politicians in the crowd wanted to record the historic moment on their phones

Many politicians in the crowd wanted to record the historic moment on their phones 

Mr Zelensky presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet signed by one of Kyiv's top pilots and appealed for the UK to supply 'powerful' aircraft - after Mr Sunak announced that Britain will train forces in how to fly them

Mr Zelensky presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet signed by one of Kyiv’s top pilots and appealed for the UK to supply ‘powerful’ aircraft – after Mr Sunak announced that Britain will train forces in how to fly them

Volodymyr Zelensky was given a standing ovation today as he hailed Britain's 'big support' for Ukraine during an address to MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall

Volodymyr Zelensky was given a standing ovation today as he hailed Britain’s ‘big support’ for Ukraine during an address to MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall

The Ukrainian President was given a rapturous reception as he arrived in the historic building to deliver a speech on his first visit since the invasion

The Ukrainian President was given a rapturous reception as he arrived in the historic building to deliver a speech on his first visit since the invasion

Political differences were put aside today as Ukraine's president Zelensky visited for the first time since the Russian invasion

Political differences were put aside today as Ukraine’s president Zelensky visited for the first time since the Russian invasion 

Mr Zelensky singled out Boris Johnson for praise, saying he had united the international community when it seemed ‘impossible’ – and after the speech the two men shook hands and chatted

Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Britain's 'big support' for Ukraine today as he held talks with Rishi Sunak in Downing Street

Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Britain’s ‘big support’ for Ukraine today as he held talks with Rishi Sunak in Downing Street

In a statement after the speech, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is time to give the Ukrainians the extra equipment they need to defeat Putin and to restore peace to Ukraine. That means longer range missiles and artillery. It means more tanks. It means planes. We have more than 100 Typhoon jets. We have more than 100 Challenger 2 tanks. 

‘The best single use for any of these items is to deploy them now for the protection of the Ukrainians – not least because that is how we guarantee our own long-term security.

‘Today’s investment in helping Ukraine will avert instability and chaos for years to come. By helping Ukraine to push back Putin, we can make our world safer – and above all, save an innocent country from destruction.’

Mr Johnson acknowledged that ‘the Typhoon is a four-nation plane and we require the approval of allies for export’.

But he added: ‘There is no reason to think that Germany or others should oppose our decision – these are UK planes. 

‘Every time we have stepped up with more military support the Ukrainians have responded and turned the tide of war. Now is the time to give them exactly what they need to finish the job,’ Mr Johnson added.

Mr Zelensky shared a warm embrace with Mr Sunak earlier as he landed at Stansted Airport in Essex for his surprise visit.

They then returned to London for talks, with Mr Sunak pledging to boost support with training for fighter pilots – a precursor to supplying advance Nato jets. More sanctions have also been imposed on Russia in a bid to cripple Putin’s war-fighting machine.

Mr Zelensky warned in his speech that ‘evil’ was still present in his country and it needed to fight on.

He said: ‘Evil is still around around today and the battle continues. Yes, we know how it’s going to end and how we are going to feel on the day victory comes. Every day we continue to pay with lives.

‘Pain and tears for bringing victory closer, with the lives of our people, our heroes, whom we lose in battles, with the lives of our heroes who take life and death risks every day to save as many of our soldiers and civilians as possible.’

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine’s call for a ‘special compensation mechanism, which will compensate war losses at the expense of Russian assets’ is based on the principle that ‘anyone who invests in violence must compensate those who have suffered from terror’.

He thanked Mr Sunak and the UK for providing battle tanks: ‘Thank you very much for this powerful defensive step.’

But he continued: ‘It’s not just I’m not speaking just about weapons. We prove together, that the world truly helps those who are brave in defending freedom and thus paves the way for a new history’, he said.

‘A history of the world that knows how to be quick in help, who knows how to be effective in the defence. Who knows how to remain principled in dark hours. Who implements its treaties and arrangements in good faith. Who does not allow perpetrators to enjoy immunity. 

‘Who knows how to overcome veto when it’s abused. Who knows no fear and who knows how to win. This shall be the new reality of the free world I’m sure.’

Mr Zelensky said he was looking forward to his audience with King Charles later, referencing the monarch’s own military service. ‘In Britain, the king is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king.’ 

He ended the speech by thanking Britain ‘in advance’ for fighter jets.

The Ukrainian president said: ‘Thank you for your attention, thank you for your support,’ he said.

‘And I will be leaving the Parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes.’

The remark prompted laughter among the MPs and peers gathered in Westminster Hall.

Mr Zelensky ended his speech by saying: ‘God Bless Great Britain and long, long live the King. Slava Ukraini.’

Before the Westminster Hall speech MPs put on a show of unity at PMQs, promising to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine. He has spoken to Parliament before, but only via video link. 

Speaking in No10, Mr Zelensky thanked the British people ‘for your big support from the first days of full-scale invasion’.

‘Thank you so much Rishi for inviting me and for me great honour to be here in Britain,’ he added.

The Ukrainian President was greeted with applause as he walked into No10 over a red carpet laid out in Downing Street.

He will also use his surprise visit to meet with some of his Ukrainian troops being trained in Britain.

Mr Sunak today pledged extra military support for Ukraine, including – crucially – the training of Ukrainian fighter jet pilots.

This could pave the way for Ukrainian forces to fly sophisticated Nato-standard jets, a key request by Mr Zelensky.

Britain also announced a new round of sanctions on the Russian military and Kremlin elites this morning, in a bid to further tighten the economic squeeze on Vladimir Putin’s regime.

After speaking with Mr Zelensky in Downing Street, Mr Sunak travelled to the House of Commons where he told MPs he was ‘delighted’ the Ukrainian President had been able to travel to Britain.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: ‘It is a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.

Mr Sunak met the Ukraine president at Stansted after he touched down for the surprise visit

Mr Sunak met the Ukraine president at Stansted after he touched down for the surprise visit

Mr Zelensky was wearing his trademark military fatigues as he embraced Mr Sunak at Stansted

Mr Zelensky was wearing his trademark military fatigues as he embraced Mr Sunak at Stansted

The PM and Mr Zelensky walked into Downing Street together under the glare of the waiting media

The PM and Mr Zelensky walked into Downing Street together under the glare of the waiting media

Mr Zelensky was guided into No10, where the held talks, by the PM this morning

Mr Zelensky was guided into No10, where the held talks, by the PM this morning   

The leaders shook hands and posed for photographs outside the famous black door

 The leaders shook hands and posed for photographs outside the famous black door 

Mr Zelensky was clapped into Downing Street by staff as he arrived today

Mr Zelensky was clapped into Downing Street by staff as he arrived today

‘I am proud that we are expanding the training for Ukrainian forces to include jet pilots and marines, and ensure that Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests today and in to the future.’

The PM added both the country and the Commons can be ‘proud that we came together to stand by Ukraine when the moment mattered’.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs that Mr Zelensky has ‘symbolised the heroism, the resolve, and the bravery of his people’ since Russia’s invasion.

The PM welcomed the Ukrainian President to the UK this morning, as he visits for the first time since Russia's invasion

The PM welcomed the Ukrainian President to the UK this morning, as he visits for the first time since Russia’s invasion

Mr Zelensky wrote on his Instagram account that he was in London to 'personally thank the British people for their support'

Mr Zelensky wrote on his Instagram account that he was in London to ‘personally thank the British people for their support’

Mr Sunak travelled to Ukraine to meet Mr Zelensky in November, shortly after he became PM

Mr Sunak travelled to Ukraine to meet Mr Zelensky in November, shortly after he became PM 

UK to train Ukraine fighter pilots 

Ukrainian pilots are to be trained by the UK to fly sophisticated Nato fighter planes in the latest show of support for Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces.

The UK will also offer an intermediate training programme for Ukrainian marines and has promised an ‘immediate surge’ of military equipment including longer-range weapons.

The latest announcements came as President Zelensky made his first visit to the UK since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Downing Street said the Government is following a ‘two-pronged’ approach, with more military kit now to counter a spring offensive by Russia, with long-term support for the future.

Although Ukraine is desperate for fighter jets immediately to counter the Russian air force, the length of the required training means that No 10 has said the pilot programme is a ‘long-term capability investment’.

The training will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated Nato-standard fighter jets in the future.

While the UK operates F-35 and Typhoon jets, the older F-16s widely operated by other Nato countries are more likely to be supplied to Ukraine, should Western leaders agree to Mr Zelensky’s requests.

Some 10,000 Ukrainian recruits have been trained in the UK in the past six months. 

The first troops arrived in Britain last week to learn how to command Challenger 2 tanks, following the PM’s decision to provide the kit.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly this morning unveiled a new package of sanctions aimed at six companies providing military equipment for Russia’s continued bombardment of Ukraine.

This included the manufacturer of drones being used to destroy Ukrainian combat vehicles, a company making parts for Russian helicopters, and a software firm involved in military aviation.

Sanctions were also slapped on a group linked to Mr Putin through opaque financial networks.

This included five individuals connected to the Russian President’s luxury residents, including the 100 billion rouble ‘Putin’s Palace’ and his lakeside Dacha. 

Mr Cleverly said: ‘Ukraine has shown Putin that it will not break under his tyrannical invasion.

‘He has responded by indiscriminately striking civilian areas and critical national infrastructure across the country.

‘We cannot let him succeed. We must increase our support.

‘These new sanctions accelerate the economic pressure on Putin – undermining his war machine to help Ukraine prevail.

‘I am determined, consistent with our laws, that Russia will have no access to the assets we have frozen until it ends, once and for all, its threats to Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and integrity.’

Ukrainian pilots are to be trained by the UK to fly sophisticated Nato fighter planes in the latest show of support for Mr Zelensky’s forces.

The UK will also offer an intermediate training programme for Ukrainian marines and has promised an ‘immediate surge’ of military equipment including longer-range weapons.

Downing Street said the Government is following a ‘two-pronged’ approach, with more military kit now to counter a spring offensive by Russia, with long-term support for the future.

Although Ukraine is desperate for fighter jets immediately to counter the Russian air force, the length of the required training means that No 10 has said the pilot programme is a ‘long-term capability investment’.

The training will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated Nato-standard fighter jets in the future.

While the UK operates F-35 and Typhoon jets, the older F-16s widely operated by other Nato countries are more likely to be supplied to Ukraine, should Western leaders agree to Mr Zelensky’s requests.

Mr Zelensky convoy weaved its way through London after his arrival this morning

Mr Zelensky convoy weaved its way through London after his arrival this morning

There was very tight security for the Ukrainian president on his first trip since Russia invaded

There was very tight security for the Ukrainian president on his first trip since Russia invaded 

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