Prime Minister’s remarks at a joint press conference with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv: August 24, 2022
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech in Ukraine
Thank you very much Volodymyr and thank you to the people of Ukraine for the incredible honor you have given me, which is a recognition of the efforts of the United Kingdom.
When you called me at 4 a.m. on that dark day in February and told me the news we had been dreading that Putin had been foolish enough to invade a sovereign European country,
I told you then that we stood side by side with you and that is as true today as it was at that horrible time.
And I can also tell you that when we met in the high security room in Downing Street to try to figure out what was going on, we were filled with apprehension.
We simply did not see how this innocent and beautiful country could repel an attack by more than 100 battalion tactical groups, when the suffering and loss would be so immense. But you did.
And like one of those indomitable Ukrainian boxers for which this country is justly famous,
you came off the ropes and hit him with an upper cut that sent Putin’s armies reeling from Kyiv, then a hook to drive them out of Kharkiv,
And it became increasingly clear to the world that it had fatally underestimated the courage, the will and above all the price you were willing to pay to defend the country you love.
And I salute the heroic dead, I salute the families of the bereaved and the wounded,
the emergency services that have been repeatedly called to the scenes of Putin’s atrocities.
I salute the bravery of ordinary Ukrainian citizens who have just resumed their lives.
Teachers, students, children.
In our country today young people get their grades for their exams and of course it was a difficult time for them,
because we have all had to deal with the pandemic.
But I ask them all to think of the children of Ukraine,
two-thirds of whom were driven from their homes, two-thirds,
and who have seen almost a fifth of their schools destroyed or damaged.
And yet, working by candlelight or in makeshift classrooms, 7,500 of them achieved the highest possible grades.
And it is our collective mission to ensure that these brilliant students grow up to use their qualifications to achieve their dreams in a peaceful, prosperous and independent Ukraine.
And I believe they will, because from the ashes of your towns and cities, from the monstrous scars left by Putin’s missiles, something beautiful is blooming, a flower that the whole world can see and admire and which is the indomitable will of the Ukrainians to resist.
And that’s what Putin failed to understand.
He simply had no idea how much Ukrainians love this amazing country with its rich black soil and magical golden domes,
how much they cherish life, bustle and freedom and the Eurovision Song Contest winning Ukraine’s cultural vibrancy.
And just as he fatally underestimated Ukraine, he also underestimated the price the whole world was willing to pay to support Ukraine.
We have and we have well and even if we have to accept after six months of war the price is indeed a high price.
And I come from a UK where we are battling inflation caused by soaring energy prices caused by Putin’s war.
And we are faced with strikes led by union bosses who have the ruinous belief that the best way to combat soaring energy prices is with ever higher wages when it is simply a question of paying gasoline on the flames
and of course we are doing everything we can to address the pressures people are facing on their cost of living and to help people through the difficult months ahead.
And that is why it is so important for you to know now that we in Britain have the strength and the patience to get through these economic difficulties which have been so recklessly driven and exacerbated by the madness and malevolence of a single man, Vladimir Putin.
And like all the other European countries, we are of course working to end our dependence on Russian hydrocarbons and we are building these new nuclear power plants, one a year instead of one every ten years, tens of gigawatts of new wind farms and I can tell you that we in the UK will not yield for a second to Putin’s economic blackmail because the people of my country can see with total clarity what is at stake in Ukraine today.
Yes of course it is about you and your right to live in peace and freedom and frankly that alone is enough,
but it is also about all of us, all of us who believe in the principles of freedom and democracy and here today in Ukraine I believe that history is at a turning point and after decades in which the democracy has been on the defensive, on the back foot, we have an opportunity to join you in saying no to tyranny, to say no to those who would stifle the freedom and independence of Ukraine and we will . And that’s why Ukraine will win.
And we also know that if we pay for Vladimir Putin’s ills in our energy bills, the Ukrainian people pay for it in their blood and that is why we know that we must stay the course because if Putin were to succeed, then no country of Russia’s perimeter would be safe and if Putin succeeded it would be a green light for all autocrats in the world, a signal that borders can be changed by force and that is why the British House of Commons, all gone combined, stood united, applauding Volodymyr Zelensky and supporting the military, diplomatic and economic support that we are providing to Ukraine.
And I am proud that we have already supplied more weapons than any other European country, including 6,900 anti-tank missiles, 5,000 NLAWs, 120 armored vehicles, Starstreak anti-aircraft missiles, anti-ship missiles and now the MLRS
And today I can tell you that more artillery and more ammunition are on the way and 2000 drones
and we are training 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers, alongside our allies, and the other day I was in Catterick in Yorkshire and I met 400 of your recruits that we are helping to train
and they were people from all walks of life, people who weren’t soldiers, who had never fought before. But the sad reality was that in just a few weeks they would be heading to that front line.
And when I listened to their good humor and their courage, I knew that Ukraine would win.
And by providing this kind of training and equipment,
I also want to applaud our friends around the world, in the EU, the Poles, the Baltic countries, the Dutch, the Czechs, the French, the Germans, the Italians, they have been unwavering.
But at this point it would be fair to pay special tribute to the outstanding global leadership of the United States of America,
And let me be clear, I believe that this US commitment of $40 billion in military support, I think $59 billion in total, was critical to Ukraine’s success.
and I thank Joe Biden and his team for what he is doing and to all of our friends I just say this: we have to keep going. WE must show that we have the same strategic stamina as the Ukrainian people.
We know the coming winter will be harsh and Putin will manipulate Russian energy supplies in an attempt to torment households across Europe
and our first test as friends of Ukraine will be to confront and endure this pressure – to help consumers but also to build our own supplies
and I believe that as we go through this winter, our position will grow stronger, and with each passing week, Putin’s position will weaken. And that is why we must now continue and intensify our support for Ukraine. The HIMARs, the MLRS and all the systems that are proving so effective in the hands of the Ukrainians.
We cannot afford for a moment to ease the sanctions against Putin, and we must maintain financial and economic support for Ukraine
and every day in the world we have to fight Putin’s lies – because it’s his war that drives up the price of food, oil and gas, not Western sanctions
and we must fight against any creeping attempts to normalize relations with Putin, because it is becoming increasingly clear that thanks to the sacrifices of the Ukrainian people, the vaunted Russian offensive in the Donbass is failing and so it is exactly the time for your friends to help you hit the Russians just when they start to wobble.
We know that Putin’s troops are getting tired, that his losses are colossal, that his supply lines are vulnerable.
We can see how tiny its recent advances have become, and how enormous the cost in Russian blood and treasure and tragically in the tears of Russian mothers is.
And we also know that now is not the time to advance a flimsy negotiation plan with someone who is simply not interested.
You can’t bargain with a bear while it eats your leg, you can’t bargain with a street robber who pins you to the ground, and we don’t have to worry about humiliating Putin any more than we do. would have to worry about humiliating the bear or the thief.
All that matters today is to restore and preserve the sovereign integrity of Ukraine.
And on this anniversary, let us remember that glorious day 31 years ago when, out of an 84% turnout, 92% supported independence.
And it is now a war for this independence and history teaches us that when a country has a language, an identity, a pride, a love of its traditions, a patriotic feeling that only grows over the months and passing years,
and when such a country is engaged in a war for its very existence, my friends, that war will only end one way.
Ukraine will win,
and Britain will be on your side.
You reminded us of values that the world thought it had forgotten,
you reminded us that freedom and democracy are worth fighting for.
I am proud to consider myself a friend of Ukraine, thank you for the honor you have given me today,
and you can count on me and my country in the years to come.