On Tuesday evening Ukrainian President Zelensky addressed the House of Commons virtually from Kyiv, making history as the first foreign leader to address MPs in the House of Commons.
In the speech Zelensky recounted the events of each successive day of the war, paying tribute to the Ukrainian soldiers and civilians who have died in the conflict. He went on to quote the famous existential question posed by Hamlet and the well-known wartime speech by Winston Churchill.
The speech closed with a plea from Zelensky to increase sanctions against Russia and to recognise the country as a terrorist state.
The speech began and ended with a standing ovation from the members of parliament.
“I am addressing all the people of the United Kingdom”
“I would like to tell you about the 13 days of war. The war that we didn’t start and we didn’t want”
“13 days of this struggle. On day one we were attacked by cruise missiles. Everybody woke up. … People, children, the entire of Ukraine. And since that, we have not been sleeping. We have all been fighting for our country”
“Over 13 days of this situation, over 50 children have been killed. These are children that could have lived. But these people have taken them away from us.”
“The question for us now is: to be, or not to be? A Shakespearean question. For 15 days, this question has been asked. But now I can give you a definitive answer. It’s definitely yes – to be.”
“We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight till the end at sea. In the air. We will continue fighting for our land whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”
“We are looking for your help, for the help of the civilized countries. We are we are thankful for this help and I’m very grateful”
“Please increase the pressure of sanctions against [Russia]. And please recognise [Russia] as a terrorist state. Please make sure that our Ukrainian skies are safe. Please make sure that you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.
“All the best, to Ukraine and to the United Kingdom.”
Members of the House then got a chance to speak.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said:
“Never before … has the house listened to such an address. Now within range of Russian guns, President Volodymyr Zelensky is standing firm for democracy and for freedom. In his righteous defence I believe he has moved the hearts of everybody.”
“At this moment ordinary Ukrainians are defending their homes and their families against a brutal assault. They are, by their actions, inspiring millions by their courage and by their devotion.”
“This is a moment for us to put our political differences aside … To press on with supplying our Ukrainian friends with the weapons they need to defend their homeland … To press on with tightening the economic vice around Vladimir Putin.”
“We will employ every method that we can … until Vladimir Putin has failed in this disastrous venture and Ukraine is free once more.”
Leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, paid tribute to the bravery of President Zelensky:
“Every one of us has been moved by the bravery, resolve, and leadership of President Zelensky.”
“Invading troops march through his streets, shells rain down on his people, and assassins seek his life – no one would have blamed him for fleeing.”
“Instead he has stayed in Kyiv to lead the Ukrainian people and to fight.”
“He has reminded us that our freedom and democracy are invaluable.”
“He has inspired the Ukrainian people to resist and frustrated the Russian war-machine.”
“He has shown his strength, and we must show him, and the Ukrainian people, our commitment and our support.”
“Labour stands with President Zelensky, with Ukraine, with Democracy. Slava Ukraini.”
Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, said:
“President Zelensky, we salute you.”
“We stand with the people of Ukraine.”
“We must do all that we can to support Ukraine.”
“[We must make sure] that we deliver the clearest message to President Putin that this will end in failure for him; that he will face justice at the international court.”
“We must stand … in defence of democracy; in defence of sovereignty.”
“Peace, justice, and the sovereignty of Ukraine must prevail.”