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Johnson salutes Ukraine’s ‘finest hour’ in speech to parliament in Kyiv

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B

oris Johnson will salute the resistance of Ukrainians in the face of the brutal Russian invasion, telling them it is their country’s “finest hour” in an address to the parliament in Kyiv.

In a speech by video link to the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, the Prime Minister will echo the words of Winston Churchill as he sets out a new £300 million package of support for the Ukrainian military.

Downing Street said it will include electronic warfare equipment, a counter battery radar system, GPS jamming equipment and thousands of night vision devices, as Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region continues.

This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come

It follows Mr Johnson’s unannounced visit to the Ukrainian capital last month, in a show of support and solidarity with president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“When my country faced the threat of invasion during the Second World War, our Parliament, like yours, continued to meet throughout the conflict, and the British people showed such unity and resolve that we remember our time of greatest peril as our finest hour,” Mr Johnson is expected to say.

“This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national story that will be remembered and recounted for generations to come.

“Your children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an aggressor counts for nothing against the moral force of a people determined to be free.”

In 1940, following the fall of France, Mr Churchill sought to rally Britons to resist the Nazis – telling the country that it would be remembered as their “finest hour”.

When he addressed the UK Parliament in March, Mr Zelensky evoked another of Mr Churchill’s wartime addresses, declaring: “We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.”

The latest military support package comes after ministers updated Parliament last week on plans to send sophisticated long-range Brimstone missiles and Stormer air defence vehicles.

In addition, the UK is to supply heavy lift aerial drones to provide logistical support to Ukrainian forces which have become isolated.

Downing Street said it is also sending more than a dozen new specialised Toyota Land Cruisers to protect civilian officials in eastern Ukraine and to evacuate civilians from frontline areas, following a request from the Ukrainian government.

It comes as a senior US official warned Russia was planning to annex large portions of eastern Ukraine and recognise the southern city of Kherson as an independent republic.

Michael Carpenter, the US ambassador to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the suspected plan was “straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook”.

He said the US and other allies had information Moscow was planning “sham referenda” in the the separatist-held “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in an attempt to add “a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy”.

“Such sham referenda, fabricated votes will not be considered legitimate, nor will any attempts to annex additional Ukrainian territory,” he said.

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