Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke before members of the UK Parliament in the House of Commons via live video feed on Tuesday, as the country announced that it would end dependence on Russian oil by the end of 2022.
Zelensky, who has become a household name across the world as a brave wartime president in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, spoke from his country via live video with the help of a translator. His video appearance was the first ever by a head of state before the House of Commons.
Before he even began to speak, the Ukrainian President was met with a rare round of applause from the MPs. It is against the House of Commons’ rules to clap.
Zelenksy urged members of Parliament to push for strong sanctions against Russia
In his address to MPs, Zelensky stressed the brutality of the war and pushed them to consider the existential threat his country is under in the wake of the Russian invasion. He also urged lawmakers to insist on strong sanctions against Russia, which he called a “terrorist state.”
“Please increase the pressure of sanctions against this country and please recognize this country as a terrorist state…Please make sure our Ukrainian skies are safe, please make sure you do what needs to be done and what is stipulated by the greatness of your country.”
The Ukrainian leader alluded to the works of major British thinkers — Shakespeare and Winston Churchill — during his speech to the House of Commons.
When referring to Russia’s attack on his country, Zelensky said before Parliament: “The question for us is to be or not to be,” mirroring Shakespeare’s famous line in the play “Hamlet.”
Later, he expressed that his people would fight “in the forests and in the streets,” and said emphatically: “We will not give up, and we will not lose.” Both statements resemble remarks Churchill gave before the House of Commons in 1940.
Zelensky also referred to the UK’s struggle to fight for its country during WWII, stating: “We do not want to lose what we have, what is ours, just in the same way as you didn’t want to lose your country.”
UK to phase out Russian oil
While US President Joe Biden announced a total ban on Russian oil imports in the country, and shortly after Zelensky’s speech, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the country would work to disentangle itself completely from Russian oil by the end of 2022.
“In another economic blow to the Putin regime following their illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK will move away from dependence on Russian oil throughout this year, building on our severe package of international economic sanctions,” Johnson said.
Countries across the world, particularly in Europe, have attempted to reduce their dependence on Russian oil since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
Russia is currently the third-largest oil producer in the world and it contributes over 10% to the global supply of oil.