Voldymyr Zelensky renewed his ‘Bromance’ with Boris Johnson today – paying tribute to the ex-PM’s role in rallying the West against Russia.
On his first visit to the UK since the invasion, the Ukraine president praised Mr Johnson for assembling an international coalition that had seem ‘impossible’.
After his rousing speech to MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall the pair shared a warm handshake and a chat in the crowd.
Mr Johnson and Mr Zelensky struck up a close relationship after Russian tanks rolled over the border last year, speaking frequently on the phone.
Close aides said the former premier was often moved by the personal bravery of the president, who spent much of the early stages of the conflict in a bunker with Kyiv under imminent threat.
Mr Johnson was the first Western leader to go to the Ukrainian capital after the invasion, while Britain gave crucial weaponry and strong political support to the fight against Putin.
Since leaving office Mr Johnson has been pushing powerfully for Nato to provide more military kit, insisting that Ukraine must have everything it needs to defend freedom.
Mr Zelensky was given a rapturous reception as he arrived in historic Westminster Hall to deliver a speech on his first visit since the Russian invasion.
Watched by Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson, Mr Zelensky insisted that more help will be needed to defeat the Russian aggressors.
He presented Speaker Lindsay Hoyle with a helmet signed by one of Kyiv’s top pilots and appealed for the UK to supply ‘powerful’ aircraft – after Mr Sunak announced that Britain will train forces in how to fly them.
The message on the helmet reads: ‘We have freedom, give us wings to protect it.’
Amid splits within Nato on how far to go in suppling air power, Mr Zelensky added: ‘Combat aircraft for Ukraine, wings for freedom.’
Mr Zelensky said he had come on behalf of the ‘brave’ who were ‘in the trenches under enemy artillery fire’. ‘We know Russia will lose. We really know that victory will change the world.’
Mr Zelensky singled out Mr Johnson for praise for helping unite the international community behind Ukraine when it seemed ‘impossible’.
‘The people of the United Kingdom and their honourable 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,’ Mr Zelensky said.
‘I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the brave, on behalf of our war heroes 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 borders, on behalf of our conscripts who are being trained now including here in Britain.
‘Thank you, Britain.’
Mr Zelensky said: ‘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.’
Mr Zelensky shared a warm embrace with Mr Sunak earlier as he landed at Stansted Airport in Essex for his surprise visit.
Read More: Zelensky hails Boris for doing the ‘impossible’