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Do more to help, defiant Ukrainian Zelenskyj urges Britain

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy speaks in a video statement
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks in a video statement with sandbags behind him as the Russian invasion continues March 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this still image taken from social media. Instagram/Volodymyr Zelenskiy via REUTERS

March 8, 2022

By William James and Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday appealed to Britain to do more to help his country fight Russia and punish what he called a “terrorist state”, striking a defiant tone, that Ukraine would fight at any cost.

Addressing the British Parliament and greeted with a standing ovation in a packed hall of lawmakers, Zelenskiy documented the Russian invasion day by day, listing the weapons used, civilians killed and the lack of food and water for many.

Wearing an olive green T-shirt, he thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tried to take a leading role in helping Ukraine against Russia, for the help already offered, but said Britain and other western countries needed to go further.

He called for further international sanctions on top of those already imposed on Moscow, a no-fly zone in Ukraine and the West’s recognition of Russia as a “terrorist state”.

“The question for us now is to be or not to be… I can give you a definitive answer: It is definitely to be,” Zelenskyj told lawmakers via video link through a translator, quoting from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

“We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end on water and in the air, we will continue to fight for our country, no matter what the cost. We will fight in the woods, in the fields, on the coast and in the streets,” he said – a remark reminiscent of World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

“Please increase sanctions pressure against this country (Russia) and recognize this country as a terrorist state and please make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe… Please make sure you do what needs to be done.”

Johnson, who has sought a central role in the international response to the Russian invasion, said Britain will “push forward” arms supplies to Ukraine and “tighten” the “economic vise” around Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He said Britain would stop importing Russian oil, a move his business secretary said would be implemented gradually by the end of the year to minimize supply disruptions.

“We will use every method we can: diplomatic, humanitarian and economic… until Vladimir Putin fails in this disastrous endeavor and Ukraine is free again,” Johnson said to lawmakers’ applause.

Since Russia invaded his country 12 days ago, Zelenskyy has regularly spoken to his people and the world from Kyiv in what Putin calls a “special military operation” to rid the country of leaders he describes as neo-Nazis. The West has dismissed this position as baseless propaganda to justify an invasion.

The Ukrainian leader has continued his appeals for the West to do more to help a country he says is not only struggling to survive but is also saving democracy across Europe.

He described the war to British lawmakers as one that Ukraine neither started nor wanted, but that the country must fight. “We don’t want to lose what is ours, our country Ukraine.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James, additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Bobby Allyn

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