The UK has taken a lead in galvanising Ukraine’s allies against Russian tyranny at a critical moment for the free world
This is a crucial year for Ukraine. And we all must be at our most determined and effective to stop the terror of Russia and its accomplices. 2024 is the time for the strongest decisions and decisive support in the fight for freedom, time for leadership that will define history. British leadership is exactly about that. And we together, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, shall not waste any second of this precious time — time for our common actions and for our alliance.
I was delighted that in the dead of our winter, Rishi Sunak, a true friend of freedom, travelled to Kyiv. He has again put his energy into galvanising our allies into helping Ukraine. And together with him we agreed on the beginning of a new chapter in European history, in the history of the entire free world. The key word in this chapter will be the word security. Security for us in Ukraine, for all free nations of Europe, for everyone in the world who values democracy.
Together with the United Kingdom we began to work on such security, and we will do everything we can to guarantee it fully and completely. We have signed a historic agreement with Rishi Sunak about security guarantees that will eliminate any possibility of Russian aggression against Ukraine once they are fully realised. Safe from aggression, Ukraine will also care about the security of other free nations and international order that will be based on the rules. We will care together with the United Kingdom.
From the beginning of this war, the UK has been one of the most solid of our allies. In February 2022, as the invading Russian army aimed towards our capital Kyiv and hundreds of other cities of our country through our border, and many briefly feared that free and democratic Ukraine faced oblivion, we called out to the world for support. The United Kingdom promptly answered that call. And Ukraine proved — we know how to use these arms to expel the invaders and restore freedom. We are proving it day by day.
Ukraine has beaten the odds, turning the tide of the war and defending every inch of our land against the forces of oppression and tyranny with the support of the British people. During my visit I had the honour to address both Houses of the UK parliament in Westminster Hall, meeting His Majesty the King, and visiting Ukrainian soldiers with Prime Minister Sunak, our blue-yellow flag was flying on every major building and in the hands of UK citizens in the streets — and it was happening right across the entire country as a recognition of Ukrainian strength and courage. Ukraine appreciates such respect, and Ukrainians firmly respect the ability of the UK to protect freedom and provide every human with a chance to prove oneself.
This is exactly what we are fighting for now — for the sake of freedom, for the ability for every Ukrainian, for every European and for every human being to know that he or she will define his or her fate themselves — and not any of the tyrants. And we will win in this battle — we are certain as much as we can be certain in the United Kingdom.
And when it comes to the weaponry we need to win the war, the UK has frequently delivered fast and delivered first. From western battle tanks to long-range precision missiles, such as Storm Shadow, and stockpiles of vital ammunition. Today, in this vital year for both Ukraine and the security of Europe, the United Kingdom is again calling on the world to rally to our side.
On Friday, Prime Minister Sunak arrived with more funding, more weaponry and most importantly a new alliance between our countries, an alliance that begins to fulfil the promises made in Vilnius, Lithuania, last year. We took our most significant step yet by signing a historic new security agreement. This is not just a declaration, it’s a reality: we are allies working together to defend European security and defend our values.
The UK is the first of 30 countries to provide these guarantees on our journey to Nato membership. It is the groundwork for others to follow. No doubt: Ukrainians deserve this alliance. By expelling the Russian occupants, Ukraine has shown our capability to restore security both on land and at sea and has demonstrated how much Ukrainians value our freedom, which is just as important. At the moment, Ukraine just needs to be given everything it needs to be able to defeat Russia in this historic battle.
This is precisely how we act. We will work together on ensuring a sustainable force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future, through the continued provision of security assistance and modern military equipment, across the land, air and sea, space and cyber domains. Moreover, since our agreement has a bilateral nature, we will ensure that Ukraine’s military capabilities are at such a level that, in the event of external military aggression against the United Kingdom, Ukraine is able to provide effective military assistance.
Ukraine always valued the support of the United Kingdom and is proud that our courage, devotion to fight for freedom and your respect to the bravery of our people have led to this security agreement that continues our longstanding co-operation. The partnership we have agreed is not simply a narrow security alliance. It marks a new level in the relationship between our nations. Our vision — mine and Rishi Sunak’s — is for a UK-Ukraine partnership that lasts for the next generations.
We will continue to explore ways to further strengthen this long-term relationship including working towards a 100-year partnership. We are rolling out English language training across the country, and as Ukraine rebuilds a prosperous economy, we will do it hand in hand with British businesses. Our future is within Europe, devoted to democracy and liberty.
The UK has always defended freedom. For the sake of the world and our collective futures, it must continue to do so. After we win together, any aggressor, big or small, will know what awaits them if they break international law. We have shown that Russia can be overcome — and if we can overcome such a danger to the international order, then we will be able to convince even the most serious potential aggressors that war will be a loss for them as well. This is why we have to win. This is why we have to stand together. This is why our alliance does matter.
Volodymyr Zelensky is the president of Ukraine