Johnson to evoke Churchill as he tells Ukrainian parliament this is their country’s ‘finest hour’


Boris Johnson will today evoke Britain’s struggle with Nazi Germany as he tells Ukraine’s parliament that their country’s resistance of Russian invasion is its “finest hour”.

The prime minister will be the first western leader to address the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv by video link, almost two months after president Volodymyr Zelensky gave his own message to the House of Commons.

Mr Johnson will say that the UK is “proud to be among Ukraine’s friends” and will announce a new £300m package of defensive military aid, including electronic warfare kit, a counter-battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night-vision devices.

In his live address, Mr Johnson will quote the words of Winston Churchill in 1940, when Britain faced the threat of invasion by Germany and he called on the nation to resist in such a way that in 1,000 years, “men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour’.”

Speaking from Downing Street on the 69th day of the war, Mr Johnson will tell Ukrainian MPs: “When my country faced the threat of invasion during the Second World War, our parliament – like yours – continued to meet throughout the conflict, and the British people showed such unity and resolve that we remember our time of greatest peril as our finest hour.

“This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come.

“Your children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an aggressor counts for nothing against the moral force of a people determined to be free.”

Ministers last week confirmed plans to send Brimstone missiles and Stormer air defence vehicles to Ukraine.

At the request of the Kyiv government, the UK is also due to supply heavy-lift drones to provide logistical support to isolated forces as well as a dozen Toyota Land Cruisers to help protect officials in eastern Ukraine and evacuate civilians from frontline areas.

A report by the Tony Blair Institute today called for the establishment of a joint coordination group so that western allies can help Ukraine close the “weapons gap” between the equipment they have and what they need to deploy as Russia continues its assault on the east of the country.

An emergency response and assessment team, taking in the US, UK, France, Germany and Ukraine, could streamline the process of identifying and delivering the arms needed, rather than have President Zelensky go from country to country with a list of requests, said the report.

Working closely with allies such as Poland, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Slovakia the team would provide a single port of call for Ukrainian needs to be quickly and coherently filled, not only for supply but also training and maintenance of weapons.

In a foreword to the report, Justin Bronk, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said: “The Russian army has taken catastrophic losses during the first two months of its invasion and has limited regular forces which it can still draw on for reserves.

“If Ukraine can be supplied with enough of the necessary equipment, it can exhaust the Russian army’s capacity for offensive operations and start to take back territory. However, it will have to be a sustained effort, and the best time to start was yesterday.”


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