MPs await Zelensky address as Johnson meets European leaders

MPs await Zelensky address as Johnson meets European leaders

The Ukrainian President will address MPs via videolink on Tuesday evening

MPs will hear from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today as Boris Johnson continues his diplomatic offensive to encourage Western leaders to punish Russia for the invasion.

Mr Zelensky will address the House of Commons at 5pm by video link after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle approved a request for the “historic address” from the leader who, according to reports, is at risk of assassination by pro-Russian groups in Kyiv.

He gave an address to the European Parliament last week and imparted a virtual message to the US Senate on Saturday, with the embattled leader expected to renew messages from those speeches to MPs, including pushing for the West to install a no-fly zone over Ukraine and for more arms to be delivered.

Mr Johnson will host leaders of the Visegrad Four of central European nations – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – to discuss the conflict today.

The Prime Minister, who speaks with Mr Zelensky on a regular basis, has consistently ruled out the UK policing Ukrainian skies, arguing it would mean shooting down Russian planes.

Meanwhile, late on Monday night the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Russia continued to target civilian evacuation corridors in Ukraine.

The latest intelligence update published by MoD said: “Russia continues to directly target evacuation corridors, resulting in the death of several civilians whilst trying to evacuate Irpin.”

“Due to heavy fighting in the town, it has reportedly been without heat, water or electricity for days.”

Also on Monday evening, Mr Johnson spoke with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with the four leaders vowing to “continue to apply pressure on Russia to isolate Putin diplomatically and economically”.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister stressed that our goal must be ensuring Putin’s failure in this act of aggression against Ukraine.”

The Foreign Secretary met with the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, on the same evening.

Liz Truss tweeted afterwards that the UK is working to “cripple” Russia’s war effort and to rally the international community.

“The UK will do all we can to support the Ukrainian people. Putin must fail,” she added.

The diplomatic efforts on the international stage comes as the UK Government faced domestic pressure to speed-up its efforts to grant safety to fleeing Ukrainians, with Labour criticising the process for being “painfully slow”.

The Home Office on Friday confirmed that 8,900 applications for refugees to come to the UK via the Ukraine Family Scheme had been submitted since Friday, but that only 300 visas had been issued.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted: “That’s shockingly low and painfully slow. Just 250 since yesterday.

“At this rate it would be weeks before many families reunite. Urgent action needed.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub