'We know freedom will win,' Zelensky declares in historic address to Parliament

The Jewish leader of Ukraine thanked Britain for its support since Russia's brutal invasion nearly one year ago


President Zelensky declared that "freedom will win" in a historic address to both houses of parliament on Wednesday ahead of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, the Speakers of both houses, and MPs and Peers, Zelensky thanked the UK for its support for Ukraine on behalf of his country, and called for Russia to be held accountable for the "terror" and "aggression" of its invasion.

Zelensky's speech to a packed Westminster Hall is his second address to Parliament since Russia's invasion in February last year, having spoken via video link as his country was fighting off the first wave of Russian brutality.

Zelensky - a descendent of Holocaust survivors - was greeted by thunderous applause from lawmakers as he arrived in Westminster Hall. He thanked the people of the UK and said he was there "on behalf of our war heroes who are in the trenches protecting Ukraine against enemy missiles".

He recalled his first visit to UK as president of Ukraine, and told a story of being guided around the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall when a guide invited him to sit in an armchair used by Winston Churchill during the Second World War. He said he "only now" understands how it felt to sit in that chair: "How bravery takes you through the most unimaginable hardships to finally reward you with victory."

Invoking the spirit of World War II, Zelenksy said: “We know freedom will win. We know Russia will lose. And we really know that victory will change the world."

Zelensky also singled out former prime minister Boris Johnson for thanks, saying: "Boris, you got others united when it seemed absolutely, absolutely impossible - thank you."

Of his own country, Zelensky said that it "will always come out on top of evil", and added: "This lies at the core of our, and also your, traditions."

He said that the UK "is marching with us to the most important victory of our lifetime", and added: "After we win together, any aggressor will know what awaits him if he attacks international order."

He called on the UK leadership to continue its sanctions regime "until Russia is deprived of any possibility to finance the war."

"Most importantly," he said, "together with the G7, we brought together a coalition of values, a coalition that protects the rule-based world order and human rights, a coalition that will work in such a way that, over time, there will simply be no grey areas in the world in which human life doesn’t matter.” 

“Anyone who invests in terror must be held accountable," he declared.

Zelensky also mentioned his upcoming meeting with the King, saying that it will be "a truly special moment for me".

He said that he will convey on behalf of all Ukrainians words of gratitude for the support the King showed before he acceded the throne in September last year.

"In Britain, the King is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king."

After presenting Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a Ukrainian fighter pilot's helmet, Zelensky appealed to the UK and the world for combat aircrafts: "Combat aircraft for Ukraine. Wings for freedom."

Although countries around the world, notably the UK, has provided weaponry and tanks to Ukraine, none so far have agreed to provide fighter jets.

Concluding his speech, he said: "I will be leaving Parliament today, thanking you all in advance for powerful English planes." His comments were greeted by laughter and applause.

He finished by saying "God bless the King" and "Slava Ukraini".

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