President Zelensky speaks of feeling of bravery during UK visit
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Britain must now supply Ukraine with the ‘hard power’ it needs to repel Vladimir Putin’s forces, including jet fighters, Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s powerful defence committee, has said. The MP for Bournemouth East, himself a former soldier, also praised Volodymyr Zelensky’s “statesman-like” speech today – while stressing the importance of not backing down in the face of Russian aggression.
Ukrainian President Mr Zelensky addressed MPs and peers in a packed Westminster Hall today, during which he thanked the British people for their support “from day one” – while emphasising the need for planes, ammunition and long-range missiles for his nation.
Afterwards, Mr Ellwood, who in attendance, said: “This was a passionate yet statesman-like speech from a war leader who came to express genuine gratitude for what Britain has done and a resolute and inspiring commitment to see this war out and defeat Putin.
“But there was a clear plea for the West to do more.
“This is far from over and the next few months will be critical.”
Emphasising his belief that Britain did need to consider Mr Zelensky’s request for jets, he added: “The West must not hesitate but offer the hard power Ukraine desperately needs.”
During his speech, Mr Zelensky presented Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, with a Ukrainian air force helmet, complete with an inscription by a Ukrainian pilot reading: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
In a subsequent joint press conference at a British army base, Mr Sunak said fighter jets were “part of the conversation” about aid to Ukraine.
He added: “Nothing is off the table. We must arm Ukraine in the short term, but we must bolster Ukraine for the long term.”
Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has himself visited Ukraine several times since the start of the war, tweeted footage from Mr Zelensky’s speech, commenting: “Thank you President @ZelenskyyUa
“Your powerful and passionate appeal must be heard.
“There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained by sending planes now.”
It was only Mr Zelensky’s second foreign trip since Russia invaded on Feb, 24, 2022, after a December visit to Washington.
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French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said he would host Mr Zelensky and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris later in the day.
Expectations were growing that he might meet European Union leader in Brussels tomorrow, where they are holding a summit.
Russia’s embassy in London responded to Mr Sunak’s remarks by warning any decision to provide Ukraine with jets would have grave implications.
A statement issued this afternoon said such a decision would be “on London’s conscience” because of the “bloodshed, next round of escalation, and subsequent military and political ramifications for the European continent and the entire globe”.
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