Address by President Volodymyr Zelensky to both Houses of the U.K. Parliament, Feb. 8, 2023

February 8,2023 586
Address by President Volodymyr Zelensky to both Houses of the U.K. Parliament, Feb. 8, 2023

Combat aircraft – for Ukraine, wings – for freedom

The people of the United Kingdom and their honorable 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!

I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the Brave. On behalf of our warriors 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 border. On behalf of our conscripts who are being trained now, including here in Britain. Thank you, Britain! And who will be then deployed to the frontline – skilled, equipped and eager to win.

On behalf of every father and every mother who are waiting for their brave sons and brave daughters back home from the war.

Mister Speaker! 

You may well remember as roughly more than two years ago we met with you here in the Parliament. It was a great honor for me. We enjoyed tea, we talked a lot about our people, our countries, the British and Ukrainian political traditions.

Mister Prime Minister! Rishi!

When we had our meeting earlier today, I said to you I would tell a story in my address to the Parliament. A story about my feelings on my first visit to London as president in autumn 2020.

The programme was packed. Royal Highnesses William and Catherine. Buckingham Palace. The aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. Westminster. Downing Street. And, of course, the War Rooms.

There is an armchair in the war room. The famous Churchill’s armchair. A guide smiled and offered me to sit down on the armchair from which war orders had been given. He asked me – how did I feel? And I said that I certainly felt something.

But it is only now that I know what the feeling was. And all Ukrainians know it perfectly well, too. It is the feeling of how bravery takes-you-through the most unimaginable hardships – to finally reward you with Victory.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I thank you for your bravery. Thank you very much from all of us! This applause is for you!

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!

You all showed your grit and character back then. Strong British character.

You didn’t compromise Ukraine. And hence you didn’t compromise your ideals. And thus you didn’t compromise the spirit of these great Islands. Thank you very much!

Our countries knew different times. Our nations defended freedom in the Second World War. The iron curtain divided us. Our people went through crises and growth, inflation, and periods of social losses and social gains.

It was tough but we always found strength and stamina to move ahead and achieve results.

This is the bedrock of our and your traditions.

Ukrainians and Brits defeated the fear of war and had the time to enjoy peace.

No matter what we encountered on different stages of our and your formidable history, you and us and the whole mankind achieved similar result – evil lost.

We will always come out on top of evil. This lies at the core of our – but also your – traditions.

However, the horizon never stays clear for a while. Once the old evil is defeated, the new one is attempting to rise its head.

Do you have a feeling that the evil will crumble once again? I can see it in your eyes now. We think the same way as you do. We know freedom will win. We know Russia will lose. We know the Victory will change the world! And this will be a change that the world has long needed.

The United Kingdom is marching with us towards the most important victory of our lifetime. It will be a victory over the very idea of the war.

After we win together, any aggressor – big or small – will know what awaits him if he attacks international order.

Any aggressor who will try to push the boundaries by force. Who will inflict destruction and death on other peoples. Who will try to endure his dictatorship at the expense of other people’s blood in criminal and unprovoked wars, as the Kremlin does. Any aggressor is going to lose.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

We have already achieved remarkable results. And we must make every effort to turn our achievements into the foundations of the future global security architecture.

The world needs your leadership, Britain, just as it needs Ukrainian bravery.

When the full-scale invasion began, we, together with you and the US and other allies, formed a true coalition of friends. This is very important.

You were among those very few who had helped before the large-scale invasion began – exactly as it will be necessary every time in the future to prevent aggression from happening.

Your help was preventive.

We must take these principles of preventive aid to those, who are threatened with aggression, and preventive sanctions – against those, who threaten aggression – as basic principles of the world anti-war policy.

We created a coalition of NLAW and Javelin that stopped the advance of the Russian army from the first day of the invasion.

We built a coalition of artillery rounds and a coalition of air defense, which allow us to save the lives of civilians, our women, children and elderly, in our cities from Russian atrocious occupation and missile terror.

We put together a powerful sanctions coalition. Your leadership in protecting international legal order through sanctions against a terrorist state – cannot be questioned. And we have to steadily continue along this way until Russia is deprived of any possibility to finance the war.

Most importantly, together with the G7 we brought about 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 gray areas in the world in which human life does not matter.

In order for it to be so, there must be justice. Anyone who invests in terror must be held accountable. Anyone who invests in violence must compensate those who have suffered from terror, aggression or other forms of state violence.

Our proposals for the creation of a Special Tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine and a Special Compensation Mechanism, which will compensate war losses at the expense of Russian assets, are based on such principles.

Justice is one of the ten elements of the Peace Formula proposed by Ukraine and supported by Britain. I thank you for your readiness to invoke the Formula!

As I already mentioned, Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in Britain. In particular, to operate “Challengers”, your main battle tanks. It’s a tank coalition in action, and I thank you, Rishi, for this powerful defensive step – for tank assistance.

The coalition of long-range missiles is the latest of all. It will allow us to make the evil completely retreat from our country by destroying its hideaways deep in the occupied territories.

And it’s not just about weapons. We proved together that the world truly helps those who are brave in defending freedom. And thus, paves the way for a new history. A history of a world that knows how to be quick in help. Who knows how to be effective in defense. 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 impunity. Who knows how to overcome veto when it is abused. Who knows no fear. And who knows how to win.

This shall be the new reality of the free world! I’m sure of that.

However, evil is still around today and the battle continues. Yes, we know how it is going to end and how we are going to feel on the day victory comes.

Everyday we continue to pay with lives, pain and tears for bringing the victory closer. With the lives of 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.

Today, I will have the honor to be received by His Majesty the King. It will be a truly special moment for me. In particular, because I will convey to him from all the Ukrainians the words of gratitude for the support His Majesty showed to them when he was still the Prince of Wales.

I also intend to tell him something that is very important not only for the future of Ukraine but also for the future of Europe. In Britain, the King is an air force pilot. And in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is the king for us, for our families.

Because they are so few, they are so precious that we, the servants of our kings, do everything possible and impossible to make the world provide us with modern planes to empower and protect pilots who will be protecting us.

I am proud of our air force. And I brought a present from them to you, Great Britain. Open, please. I will explain. It’s the helmet of a real Ukrainian pilot. He is one of our most successful aces. He is one of our kings. And the writing on the helmet reads: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”

I trust this symbol will help us form our next coalition – coalition of the planes.

I appeal to you and the world with simple and yet most important words: Combat aircraft – for Ukraine! Wings – for freedom!

Great Britain!

You and us both struggle for peace, but instead we are forced to face the rage that seeks to deprive us of peace and everything else that is valuable in life.

Unfortunately, it is in human nature to allow evil mature. It then stands up against humanity. It then destroys and kills. It launches aggressions and breaks people’s lives.

You and us have already fought together against such evil. You and us already have the experience of defeating the evil that is generated by human nature.

I am not saying there will be no more wars after this war ends. It is impossible to completely erase evil from human nature. Yet, it is in our power to guarantee with words and deeds that the light side of human nature will prevail. The side you and us share. And this stands above anything else.

Thank you for your attention! Thank you for your support!

Leaving the British Parliament two years ago, I thanked you for delicious English tea. I will be leaving the parliament today thanking all of you in advance – for powerful English planes.

By the way, it’s almost five o’clock.

God bless Great Britain and long live the King! 

Слава Україні!

Source: President of Ukraine’s official website

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