March 27, 2024

Remarks by the President of Ukraine in Accepting the 2022 Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award

Finest Hour 198, SPECIAL ISSUE 2022

Page 10

By Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is President of Ukraine.

Friend Boris!

Dear members of the Churchill Society!

Dear members of the Ukrainian Warrior Games team, I know that you are also there!

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Dear guests!

It is an extraordinary honor for me to receive such a leadership award today. And, in receiving it, it is very appropriate to recall one of the most famous statements of Winston Churchill, which he said on 8 May 1945, after the end of the war in Europe: “My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.”

And now I can quite rightly say that this award is not only for me, and it reflects not only my efforts. It would not be possible without all of us. It would not be possible without one hundred and sixty Ukrainian soldiers who were awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine for the period from February 24. It would not be possible without more than twenty-four thousand Ukrainian men and women who have been awarded our state awards for bravery in the battles against the Russian terrorist invasion. This award would not be possible if the entire Ukrainian people had not risen up to defend freedom from the attack of tyranny, as Boris said now, a tyranny that is trying to return us to the worst that happened in the twentieth century, and that was then defeated thanks to the influence of Churchill in particular.

Something else should be said as well: Ukrainians and European history will always remember those who did not hesitate to come to the aid of our people and the very idea of freedom.

Addressing Londoners celebrating the victory of 1945, Winston Churchill recalled that Britain had stood alone for a whole year against the greatest military power of the time. And it did not quit the struggle. Instead, it created an example for all nations fighting against tyranny—an example of the fact that victory is possible if you remember what honor is and do not deviate from your principles.

When we celebrate our victory, which we surely will, we will be able to say, thankfully, slightly different words from those said by Prime Minister Churchill because Ukraine was not left alone after February 24. With us were those who helped us, those who remembered at the worst time what honor is, and who “had no thought of quitting the struggle.”

I’m talking about you now, Boris. This award is yours too. This showed our joint leadership—Ukrainians, the British people, and everyone who will never surrender their freedom to tyrants, no matter what weapon is used against us.

The price of freedom is extremely high, but it is incomparably higher for those who first surrender and then try to regain it than for those who always protect it with all their might.

We are defending it. We are fighting—just as during the terrible trials of the twentieth century. Just as then, the factor of personal leadership is now crucial: leadership on the battlefield, leadership in helping the active army, leadership in international relations. And although the stakes in this war are different, they are no less high than those of eighty years ago.

What are we fighting for now?

We fight not just for our land, although that is part of it; not just for human rights or the right of one nation, the Ukrainians, to live independently, although we fight for these too, of course; and not just for freedom in Europe or everywhere on the borders of Russia, although this will be guaranteed as a consequence of our victory.

We are fighting together to ensure that war is never again seen by any aggressor as a means of achieving aggressive goals.

And perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind, we are now able to show everyone in the world and for ages that democracies, united, can stop any tyranny, even if at first it seems that the foe has unlimited resources for aggression.

But this can become a reality only if Russia loses on the battlefield in Ukraine.

That is why it is necessary to continue the supply of modern and effective weapons to our state in sufficient quantities to break finally the offensive potential of Russian tyranny. Sanctions against Russia must be strengthened and applied against all those who commit or support terror. And it is necessary to involve more nations in our coalition for the defense of freedom—especially those against whom Russia in the twenty-first century decided to use one of the most terrible types of weapons: hunger, artificial hunger.

The democracies of the world are capable of stopping any tyranny. We are capable of stopping any evil that threatens our freedom. Only the joint leadership of the entire free world can be enough for this.

And patience should be enough—patience on the way to victory. No one knows today how much time and effort it will take to reach it.

The victory, however, is worth the effort. And it will become our shared history—so outstanding that you and I will later be quoted in the same way as we are now quoting Sir Winston Churchill.

Thank you for your attention!

Thank you for the award—this award to the people of Ukraine!

Glory to Ukraine!

A tribute, join us




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