Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech in full: ‘Combat aircraft for Ukraine. Wings for freedom’
The Ukrainian President thanked Britain for “marching” with Ukraine towards the “most important victory of our lifetime”, and impelled Western allies to provide “wings for freedom” to defend against Russian aggression.
Thank you so much, thank you. 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 protect Ukraine against enemy aircrafts and missiles. On behalf of our tenth command, who fight to restore our Ukrainian borders. On behalf of our conscripts who are now trained, including here in Britain – thank you Britain.
And who will then be deployed to the front line, 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.
Mr Speaker, you may well remember, roughly more than two years ago, we met with you here in Parliament – a great honour it was for me – and I remember we enjoyed tea. We talked, of course. We talked a lot about our people, and about our countries, about the British and Ukrainian political traditions.
Mr Prime Minister, Rishi, when we had our meeting earlier today and I said that 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, and Buckingham Palace and an aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. Westminster, of course, Downing Street, and of course, the (Churchill) War Rooms.
And there is an armchair in the War Rooms, the famous Churchill armchair, and a guide smiled and offered me to sit down on this armchair, from which orders were given. And he asked me how did I feel.
I said that I suddenly 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. Yes, please, that is for you. All the applause for you.
You, all of you, you all showed your grit and character back then – strong British character. You didn’t compromise on 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.
And of course everybody understands that our countries, (in) absolutely different times, our nations defended freedom in the Second World War. The Iron Curtain divided us, our people went through crises and growth, through inflation and perils of social losses and social gains, it was tough but we always found friends and stamina to move ahead and achieve results.
This is the bedrock of our traditions. Ukrainians and Brits defeated the fear of war ahead of the time to enjoy peace, no matter what we encountered on different stages of our and your formidable history.
And you and us, the whole (of mankind) achieved a 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 in your eyes, now, we think the same way as you do. We know freedom will win.
We know Russia will lose. And we really know the victory will change the world, and this will be a change 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 war. After we win together, any aggressor – it doesn’t matter, big or small – will know what awaits him if he attacks (the) international order. An aggressor who will try to push boundaries by force, who will inflict destruction on other peoples, who will try to endure his dictatorship at the expense of other people’s blood in criminal and unprovoked wars. They will know, 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 Britain, and the United States and other allies, formed a true coalition of friends. That was very important.
You were among those, the few who helped before the large scale invasion began – exactly as it will be necessary to do every time in the future to prevent aggression from happening.
Your help was preventative, we must take these principles of preventative aid to those who are threatened with aggression. And (impose) preventative sanctions against those who threaten aggression as basic principles of the world under war policy.
We created a coalition of NLAWs (light Anti-tank Weapon), thank you. Of NLAW and Javelin that stopped the advance of the Russian army from the first day of the invasion.
We built the coalition of artillery rounds, and a coalition of air defence, which allow us to save the lives of our children, of our people, of our civillians, our women, our elderly, and our cities from atrocious Russian occupation and terror.
We put together a powerful sanction coalition, and your leadership, protecting the 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 rules based 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.
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.
Terror, aggression or other forms of state violence are proposals for the creation of the special tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine, and special compensation mechanisms to compensate war losses at the expense of Russian assets, are based on such principles.
Justice is one of ten elements of the peace formula proposed by Ukraine, and supported by Britain. I thank you for your readiness to invoke the formula. Thank you, Prime Minister. Thank you very much.
As I already mentioned, Ukrainian soldiers are being trained in Britain in particular to operate Challengers, your main battle tanks. Thank you, Rishi. Thank you very much for this powerful defensive step, for tank assistance.
And thank you for 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 airbases deep in the occupied territories.
And I’m not speaking 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 the world that knows how to be quick in help, who knows how to be effective in 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 is accused, who knows no fear, and who knows how to win.
This shall be the new reality of the free world, I’m sure.
However, evil, evil, evil is still 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 that 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 civillians as possible, and today I will have the honour to be received by His Majesty The King. It will be a truly special moment for me – for our country. 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.
And I also intend to tell him something that I think is very, very, very important 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 a king.
For us, just 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.
And I am proud of our air force, and I brought a present from them to you, Great Britain. I will explain, it is the helmet of a real Ukrainian pilot. He is one of our most successful aces and he is one of our kings.
The writing on the helmet reads: “Give us wings to protect it.”
I trust this symbol will help us for our next coalition, a coalition of the planes. And I appeal to you and the world with these most simple and yet important words: “Combat aircrafts for Ukraine. Wings for freedom.”
Great Britain, you and us both struggle for peace but instead we are forced to face the (regime) that seeks to deprive us of peace and everything else that is valuable in life. Unfortunately, it is in human nature to allow evil. It then stands up against humanity. It then destroys and kills. It launches aggressions and breaks peoples lives.
You and us have already fought against such evil. You and us already have the experience of defeating the evil that is generated by human nature. I’m not saying there will be no more wars after the war ends – no. 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. And leaving British parliament two years ago, I thanked you for delicious English tea. I will be leaving parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes.
By the way, it’s almost 5 o’clock. God bless Great Britain and long, long live the King. Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine).