From:  Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP

Published:  12 Jan 2024    Location: Ukrainian Rada   Delivered on:  12 Jan 2024

(Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)


Mr President, Mr Prime Minister, Mr Chairman, Honourable Members of the Rada:

I come from the world’s oldest Parliament to address the world’s bravest. And it is an honour to do so. Every Parliamentarian serving in a democratically elected chamber treasures the ideal of freedom. Your courage is defending it. Even as the enemy came within 20 kilometres of this Chamber, with many of you personally targeted, you refused to be daunted. You continued to sit and do your duty – as you have throughout this war. Because this is where you express the sovereignty and independence, for which your people are prepared to sacrifice everything. This is where you are keeping alive the cause of democracy, in defiance of the gravest threat we have faced this century. So, on behalf of Britain and all your allies: Thank you. Slava Ukraini.

President Zelensky, you are an inspiration, and, Volodymyr, I am proud to call you a friend. President John F Kennedy said of the great Winston Churchill that he: “Mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.” Volodymyr, you have done the same, and English isn’t even your first language! No leader this century has done more to unite liberal democracies in the defence of our values. Thank you.

Above all, let me pay tribute to the people of Ukraine. I first came to Ukraine ten years ago, in the year of the Maidan protests. I remember the sense of nervous hope as Ukraine looked towards a future as a sovereign European democracy. And in each of my visits since this war began, even amidst all the rubble and destruction, the people I’ve met are more determined than ever to realise that dream. The soldiers who even now fight to the last breath for every inch of ground. The pilots making stunning blows against Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The gunners beating impossible odds to defend your skies. The engineers who defeated darkness during the most difficult winter in your history. And the ordinary people of Ukraine, who have endured more than anyone should ever have to bear. Rockets and bombs deliberately aimed at homes and hospitals, shelters, and schools. Torture, rape, children kidnapped. You have met this depravity with bravery and defiance. With your unique, unbreakable Ukrainian spirit. And all of us in the free world salute you.

We meet today at a difficult moment in the struggle for Ukraine’s freedom. As always during conflict, there will be difficult moments. But we must prepare for this to be a long war. But I believe there is hope for us in the echoes of Britain’s own history. If 1940 was our finest hour, and Ukraine’s was two years ago as you resisted the Russian invasion, then perhaps today is more like

  1. That was a point in the middle of the war, when progress on the battlefield was hard, the defence industry was under severe strain, and populations were becoming weary. It must have been hard to see the light ahead. But they stood firm. And although they did not know it then, for all the setbacks and difficulties that still lay before them, that was the moment the tide began to turn, and victory became assured. I believe that the same will be true of this moment.

In the end, history tells us that democracies who endure will always prevail.  Putin cannot understand that while you can kill individuals and destroy buildings, no army can ever defeat the will of a free people. And that is why Ukraine will win. Think of what you have already achieved. Putin believed he could subjugate Ukraine by force in a matter of weeks. Instead, with every rocket he fires the Ukrainian people become ever more determined, and their sense of nationhood becomes stronger still.

Russia’s military vastly outnumbers Ukrainian forces. Yet you have already regained half of the occupied territory. You have held the East, reopened vital shipping lanes to help feed the world and increasingly made Crimea a vulnerability for Russia, not a strength. These victories show: Russia can be beaten in its war of aggression. It’s on track to lose nearly half a million men. Putin has faced an attempted coup, been indicted as an international war criminal, presides over an economy severely weakened by sanctions, and has succeeded in persuading countries across Europe, to significantly increase their defence spending. He is now reduced to begging Iran and North Korea for weapons, and desperately sacrificing hundreds of thousands more men in the hope that Ukraine will yield, or its friends might walk away.

Well, Ukraine will not yield. And the United Kingdom will never walk away.

From the very beginning, the British people spontaneously flew the Ukrainian flag – and I tell you that it flies still. They felt moved to show solidarity with people they’ve never met in a country most have never visited. Because of our shared faith in freedom, fairness and democracy, we welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open hearts. We trained tens of thousands of their Ukrainian comrades in arms. We led the way in delivering helicopters, ships, tanks, and armoured vehicles, air defences and electronic weapons systems, planeloads of anti-tank missiles like the NLAWs and Javelins, Storm Shadows to reach behind enemy lines and defend against aggression in the Black Sea, humanitarian and economic support, and the strongest set of sanctions ever to debilitate Russia’s economy.

I’m proud that we’ve provided over £9bn of support so far. But I want to go further still. Today, President Zelensky and I agreed a new partnership between our two countries designed to last a hundred years or more. Our partnership is about defence and security. It is about the unique ties between our people and cultures. It will build back a better and brighter future for Ukraine. To attract new investment in jobs and homes, to fund English language training for the Ukrainian people as you make English the language of business and diplomacy. And it will hold Russia

accountable for their war crimes, because Russia must pay to rebuild what they have destroyed. Perhaps above all, it will support Ukraine to complete the historic journey you have chosen: to becoming a free, independent democracy at the heart of Europe.

Ours is the unbreakable alliance: The nezlamni allianz.

First, we will help you win the war. Russia thinks that they will outlast us; that our resolve is faltering. It is not. In each of the last two years, we sent you £2.3bn of military aid. This year, we are going to increase that with the biggest single defence package so far worth £2.5bn. This package will include: more air defence equipment, more anti-tank weapons, more long-range missiles, thousands of rounds more ammunition and artillery shells, and training for thousands more soldiers. Now in total, the UK will have provided almost £12bn of aid to Ukraine. So be in no doubt: we are not walking away. Putin will never outlast us. We are here for Ukraine –as long as it takes.

But the best way to make sure Ukraine has the weapons it needs is to help Ukraine to produce those weapons themselves. So, our second action is to work with you to massively increase defence industrial production. I believe this will be a source of huge economic strength and value for Ukraine in the future. So even as the UK donates more equipment we will help make you the armoury of the free world. British companies like BAE Systems and AMS are already supporting your armed forces from within Ukraine. And we will go further. Starting today with £200m to manufacture thousands of new drones, both here in Ukraine and in the UK. This is the single largest package of drones given to Ukraine by any nation.

Thirdly, today’s agreement supports your historic choice to join NATO. Because I believe that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. But this isn’t just about how NATO benefits Ukraine. It’s about how Ukraine benefits NATO.  Your understanding of modern war comes not from a textbook but the battlefield. Your armed forces are experienced, innovative, and brave. Ukraine belongs in NATO and NATO will be stronger with Ukraine. Last year’s Vilnius Summit made important steps towards membership.

And I want us to be even more ambitious at the Washington Summit this June. And we made you a solemn promise along with 30 other countries to provide new, bilateral security assurances. Today, the UK is the first to deliver on that promise. President Zelensky and I have just signed a new security agreement. If Russia ever again invades Ukraine, the UK will come to your aid with swift and sustained security assistance. We will provide modern equipment across land, sea, and sky, sanction Russia’s economy, and work closely with allies to do so. You will not have to ask. You will not have to argue for what you need. The UK will be there from the first moment to the last. I believe this is the greatest moment in the history of our relationship. With unprecedented security guarantees, it defines our future as allies, working together for the security of Europe and sitting side-by-side among the free countries of the world.

In the words of the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, you have broken your heavy chains and joined the family of the free. Because in the end, this is about even more than security. It is about Ukraine’s right as an independent nation to determine your own future. And it is about the right of all nations – enshrined in the UN Charter – to determine their own future. As Churchill said, there are two kinds of nationalism: “The craze for supreme domination by weight or force” – which he called “a danger and a vice”. Or the nationalism that comes from “love of country and readiness to die for country, love of tradition and culture, and the gradual building up of a social entity dignified by nationhood”. He called this: “the first of virtues”.

I can think of no better description of the two sides of this war, or a better description of the battle that will define our age. This war may have begun in the deluded mind of a man in thrall to the mirage of a long-dead empire. If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop here. That’s why President Biden, the EU, allies in NATO, the G7 and beyond have seen the century-defining importance of this fight and they have rallied to your cause. And we cannot – and will not – falter now, because aid to Ukraine is an investment in our own collective security. Only a Ukrainian victory will deter Putin from attacking others in the future, and prove our enemies wrong when they say that democracies have neither the patience nor resources for long wars. This is the choice before us. These are the stakes. Waver now, and we embolden not just Putin, but his allies in North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere. Or rally to Ukraine’s side and defend our common cause of democracy over dictatorship, freedom over tyranny, the rule of law over anarchy. That is what you are fighting for. And to echo Churchill: We must give you the tools – and I know that you will finish the job.

Let me conclude with this final thought. On one of the earliest days of the invasion, in the darkness just before the dawn, as Russian bombs fell on Kyiv, President Zelensky stood outside the House with Chimaeras, and sent a simple, defiant message to the world: My tut. We are here. Today, as the world asks: will your allies waver, will our resolve weaken, will our belief in your success falter, my reply is the same: My tut. We are here.

As a symbol of our nezlamni allianz, I bring you today the United Kingdom’s flag signed by our country’s entire Cabinet to stand here until the day of your victory and beyond as a sign to the world that we are here and we will always be with you.

My tut.

Slava Ukraini.