In pictures: President Zelensky visits the UK

time:2023-05-29 14:12:21 source:Al Jazeera

On Wednesday, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise trip to the UK to speak in Westminster Hall and meet King Charles at Buckingham Palace.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shared a warm embrace with Mr Zelensky when he arrived at Stansted Airport (above).

The two leaders waved outside Downing Street, before heading inside.

Mr Sunak then went to the Commons for the weekly Prime Minster's Questions.

In his opening words, he said he was "delighted" that Mr Zelensky was visiting the UK.

He said it was "testament to the unbreakable friendship" between the UK and Ukraine.

Later on, Mr Zelensky met Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord McFall (above and below).

Mr Zelensky signed the guestbook at Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster.

He also met Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Zelensky arrived on stage in Westminster Hall and was met with rapturous applause.

Sir Lindsay introduced Mr Zelensky and reflected on an afternoon tea the pair shared in October 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Little did we know our relationship would grow in such turbulent times," Sir Lindsay said.

He spoke about the first speech, made virtually, by Mr Zelensky to the Commons last March, describing the atmosphere as "electrifying".

He said Parliament was "honoured you put yourself at risk to address us" in person on Wednesday.

Mr Zelensky then spoke in English and said he was there to represent Ukrainian warriors, "on behalf of our war heroes who are in the trenches protecting Ukraine against enemy missiles".

Mr Zelensky thanked the UK for providing equipment to his soldiers and training for those on the front line, and said the UK has been standing with Kyiv "since day one".

The leader then presented Sir Lindsay with a Ukrainian fighter pilot's helmet.

The pilot it belonged to is "one of the most successful aces, and he's one of our kings", Mr Zelensky said.

The writing on the helmet reads "we have freedom, give us wings to protect it".

The president then travelled to Buckingham Palace to meet King Charles.

The two men were pictured standing together as the King held an audience with the Ukrainian president - the first time they had met in person.

Mr Sunak and Mr Zelensky then flew together in a helicopter to Dorset for the next stop on the UK visit.

They were pictured laughing at something on the PM's phone as they prepared to take off.

They landed at Lulworth Camp, a military base in Dorset, flanked by their teams and military figures.

The Ukrainian president met soldiers who are being trained in the UK on how to operate Challenger 2 tanks.

He took time to present medals to some of the troops who will soon be sent to the front line.

Mr Sunak and Mr Zelensky gave a joint press conference in front of a tank, the same model the UK is donating to the Ukrainian war effort.

The PM said "nothing is off the table" when asked about providing fighter jets to Ukraine.

Sending warplanes was "part of the conversation", he told reporters, hours after Number 10 said the defence secretary has been asked to investigate what jets the UK could potentially give.

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