'He's not the lion but he gives the roar': Boris compares Zelenskyy to Churchill

24 March 2022, 08:25 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 08:28

Boris Johnson compared Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Winston Churchill
Boris Johnson compared Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Winston Churchill. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has compared Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to Churchill because of his brave wartime leadership.

The Prime Minister told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the comedian-turned-statesman "may not have been the lion but he's been privileged to give the roar", evoking one of his hero's famous quotes.

Mr Johnson, an aficionado of Britain's Second World War PM who has written a book of him, lavished praise on Mr Zelenskyy.

The president has earned respect around the world for his defiant messages issued even as Russian forces invaded his country en masse.

He refused to flee the capital Kyiv despite him and the city being considered Vladimir Putin's prime target.

Speaking to Nick before flying to a Nato summit in Brussels, Mr Johnson said: "I think that President Zelenskyy has proved to be a quite remarkable leader of his people - he's rallied them and he's been their voice.

"He knows, as Churchill said of himself, he may not have been the lion but he's been privileged to give the roar.

Read more: Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

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"It's the Ukrainian people who have been the lion, and he's expressed their will and their sense of defiance."

Mr Johnson and Mr Zelenskyy are said to have a very positive relationship, with reports recently claiming the latter serenaded the Prime Minister with an alternative rendition of "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles in a call.

He reportedly replaced the word "love" with "NLAW", the missile launcher sent by the UK which has laid waste to Russia's armoured vehicles.

Ukrainians have also joked they will shout "God save the Queen when they fire the weapons.

To be compared to Churchill by Mr Johnson shows how highly the Prime Minister rates Mr Zelenskyy, too.

The Ukrainian president himself had referred to a famous Churchill speech as he gave a historic address to MPs in the House of Commons through videolink.

"We will not surrender, we will not lose, we will go to the end. We will fight at sea, we will fight in the air, we will protect our land.

"We will fight everywhere… we will not surrender."

Mr Johnson also told Nick that he wanted to urge more measures against Russia, including possibly going after its gold reserves.

He is due to meet Nato leaders in Brussels on Thursday. He is also due to dispatch some 6,000 missiles to Ukraine to help their defence of their country – with Kyiv’s military apparently going on the counter-offensive in some places.

Mr Johnson also dismissed Russia’s attempts to host Euro 2028, a rival bid to Britain and Ireland’s, as “beyond satire”.

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