Ukrainian MP: It doesn’t feel like our finest hour but PM’s speech gives us hope

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Ukrainian MPs sang their national anthem before Mr Johnson spoke (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office) (PA Media)
Ukrainian MPs sang their national anthem before Mr Johnson spoke (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office) (PA Media)

A Ukrainian MP has said Boris Johnson’s speech in their parliament gave them “hope we are not alone” but contested his description that the nation is experiencing its “finest hour”.

The Prime Minister was given a warm reception as he echoed the words of Winston Churchill in his videolink address to the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday – describing Ukraine’s resistance against Vladimir Putin’s invasion as its “finest hour, that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come”.

Inna Sovsun, the deputy leader of the Holos Party, said Mr Johnson is “probably the biggest friend that Ukraine has right now” after attending the address with hundreds of her colleagues.

Responding to his “finest hour” statement however, the 37-year-old told the PA news agency: “I don’t know if the definition of ‘finest’ is supposed to be something nice and beautiful – certainly it doesn’t feel like that.

Inna Sovsun said Mr Johnson is ‘probably the biggest friend Ukraine has right now’ (PA) (PA Wire)
Inna Sovsun said Mr Johnson is ‘probably the biggest friend Ukraine has right now’ (PA) (PA Wire)

“It will probably be a glorious time described in history textbooks (and) reading about them is probably nice but living through them is hell, frankly speaking.

“But what we definitely understand and what we agree is this is a historic moment… when the nation is being transformed and reborn as a different type of nation.

“If that is the definition of the finest hour that could be it – but again, living through that is not something you’ll want for your children.”

Ms Sovsun pointed out that while Mr Johnson was speaking MPs were reading that Russian forces had stormed a steel plant filled with Ukrainians in the besieged city of Mariupol.

But she added that Mr Johnson is the first world leader to address the Ukrainian Parliament since the war began and his address was widely well-received.

“I have never seen this many standing ovations for a single speech… (Ukraine) is certainly lucky to have a friend like the UK,” tweeted Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko.

Ms Sovsun said the UK’s Prime Minister was already “seen like a hero” in Ukraine before his address thanks to his vocal support of the nation.

“Prime Minister Johnson is probably the biggest friend that Ukraine has right now… the reaction (to his speech) has been of course positive,” said the 37-year-old.

“It brings hope that we are not alone and the world is (still) standing with Ukraine.

“He’s the guy who is saying the same (things) we are saying to the West, so he’s pretty much seen like a hero here in Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson announced that the UK will continue to provide military aid to Ukraine, which Ms Sovsun said is also giving the country hope – but added that specific weaponry such as artillery is still required.

She also said she had hoped issues with visas for Ukrainian refugees hoping to travel to the UK would be addressed in Mr Johnson’s announcements.

“The UK (does not have) a very friendly visa policy towards Ukrainians, this has always been an issue,” she said.

“Visa policy is something that we hope would change, because right now getting the visa is extremely complicated and that is what refugees are complaining about.

“We hope there will be changes in that direction as well – that was not announced, we hoped it would be.”

Fellow Ukrainian MP Vadym Ivchenko said approximately 90% of MPs attended Mr Johnson’s speech.

“We (are) proud of what he is doing… good speech and good reaction,” he told PA.

Mr Ivchenko added that despite the fresh package of aid announced “of course we need more”.

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