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Churchill’s spirit ‘walking with Zelenskyy’ as PM presents him with leadership award

Boris Johnson claims he could see Winston Churchill’s spirit walking alongside Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and that he “probably would have wept at the Ukrainian president’s sheer courage” during the Russian invasion.

As he presented the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award, the prime minister spoke highly of Mr Zelenskyy.

Vadym Prystaiko, the country’s ambassador in the UK, was present in London to accept the honor on behalf of his president, while Mr Zelenskyy watched the ceremony online.

Johnson stated that the Russian military offensive in February was a moment of great crisis and Mr Zelenskyy was facing a leadership test similar to Churchill’s in 1940 during World War Two.


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Image Volodymyr Zilenskyy joined Boris Johnson via video link from Kyiv

Prime Minister pointed out that Mr Zelenskyy had chosen to remain in Kyiv’s capital, just as Churchill did in London during the Nazi invasion of France in 1940.

Johnson spoke about the beginning of the Ukraine war and said that Churchill would have cheered, and likely wept, because he was often moved by the courage, moral physical courage, displayed in those dark weeks.

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The PM stated that “Never in my life in international affairs have there been a clearer case for right against wrong.”

He said: “The global wave for solidarity for Ukraine was in large part generated by your advocacy of the cause.

“Your dignity, your defiance, and your unfailing good humor have moved millions.

“You have been a symbol for the heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people because you stood against barbarism.”

Image The award was accepted by Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador.

Mr Zelenskyy was compared to Churchill by Mr Johnson. He said that he could picture his spirit walking beside you, encouraging you and guiding you with his walking stick.

“And perhaps marvelling at your superb contempt for danger. He understood, I believe.

“You were called upon to give the roar…and you did it brilliantly”

He said, “Like Churchill you have understood that you are not the lion.” Ukrainians are the lion. You were called to give the roar. You have given the roar of freedom against tyranny and of good against evil, light against dark, and it was magnificent.”

Responding, Mr Zelenskyy stated that it was his honor to be awarded the leadership award.

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June: Boris Johnson returns to Kyiv

Churchill also spoke Churchill’s words in May 1945, after the end to World War Two. He said that it was “not victory for any party or class”. It’s a victory for the great British nation as an entire.

Zelenskyy stated that the award does not reflect only his efforts, and praised the courage of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers in the fight against Russian forces.

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Mr Zelenskyy stated that the award would not have been possible if the whole Ukrainian population had not stood up and defended their freedom from the attack of tyranny. They tried to send us back into the worst reality in the 20th century which was defeat due in part to the Churchill factor.

Johnson was also honored by the president for his support in the military “in the darkest time…who had no thought of quitting the struggle”, and he said: “This award, Boris, is yours too.” This is the result of our combined leadership of Ukrainians, Britons, and all others who refuse to give up their freedom to any tyrant.


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