Zelenskyy tells UK ‘freedom will win,’ pushes for warplanes

LONDON, 8 Feb: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pushed for fighter jets to ensure his country’s victory over Russia in a dramatic speech before the U.K. Parliament, where he also thanked the British people for their support since “Day One” of Moscow’s invasion.
The embattled leader’s daring to visit Britain in a bid for more advanced weapons comes as Ukraine braces for an expected Russian offensive and hatches its own plans to retake land held by Moscow’s forces. Support from Western allies thus far has been key to Ukraine surprisingly stiff defense — and now the two sides are engaged in grinding battles.
Hundreds of lawmakers and parliamentary staff packed the 900-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest — and unheated — part of Parliament for Zelenskyy’s speech. It was only his second confirmed journey outside Ukraine since Russia invaded nearly a year ago.
Zelenskyy,, wearing his trademark olive drab sweatshirt, urged allies to send his country jets, saying combat aircraft would be “wings for freedom.”
The president, who planned to meet later with King Charles III, noted that the British monarch was a qualified military pilot.
“The king is an Air Force pilot,” Zekenskyy said, and “in Ukraine today, every Air Force pilot is a king.”
He brought a gift of a Ukrainian Air Force helmet, inscribed by a Ukrainian pilot with the phrase: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
In past wars, “evil lost,” Zekenskyy told lawmakers. “We know Russia will lose and we we know victory will change the world.”
He also called for stronger sanctions against Moscow, until “Russia is deprived of any possibility to finance this war.”
He said he was speaking on behalf of the brave people of his own country — and thanked Britons for their bravery.
“London has stood with Kyiv since Day One,” he said, handing over a combat helmet as a thank you to Britain.
Zelenskyy has rallied support for his country repeatedly through such speeches — mostly given remotely — to Western lawmakers. Support from allies has helped Ukraine mount a surprisingly stiff defense — and now the two sides are engaged in grinding battles.
The Ukrainian leader arrived on a Royal Air Force plane in London on Wednesday. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak greeted him on the tarmac, tweeting a photo of him embracing the Ukrainian leader.
“The United Kingdom was one of the first to come to Ukraine’s aid. And today I’m in London to personally thank the British people for their support,” Zelenskyy said on Instagram.
A large convoy of vehicles left the airport and headed straight to Downing Street in central London. Both leaders posed briefly for photos in front of the famous black door that leads into the U.K. prime minister’s residence. (AP)