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UK PM invokes Churchill in Zelensky award

Zelensky Johnson
Outgoing British PM Boris Johnson has been a staunch ally of Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: AAP
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Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has presented Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award, drawing comparisons between the two leaders in times of crisis.

President Zelensky accepted the award by video link during a ceremony at Johnson’s London office that was attended by members of the Churchill family, the UK’s Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and Ukrainians who have received training from British soldiers.

Mr Johnson recalled how President Zelensky confirmed on February 24 that Russia had invaded, adding, “In that moment of supreme crisis, you faced a test of leadership that was, in its way, as severe as Churchill’s challenge in 1940.”

Churchill, famous for his inspirational speeches and rousing of morale, is a national hero to many British people, having led the nation through the majority of World War II.

President Zelensky thanked Prime Minister Johnson and Britain for their support.

The two men have formed a close relationship since Mr Johnson became the first Western leader to visit Ukraine after Russia’s invasion.

Earlier this month, Mr Zelensky said he was saddened when Mr Johnson quit as Britain’s prime minister and Conservative Party leader after months of ethics scandals.

The Ukrainian leader received a standing ovation in the British Parliament in March, when he invoked one of Churchill’s most famous speeches and vowed to fight Russian troops in the air, sky, sea and on the streets.

The Churchill leadership award was first presented in 2006.

Past recipients include Prince Charles, former British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.