PM praises Ukrainian who says her countrymen are ‘Spartans of 21st century’

The Prime Minister said he had pledged to send more defensive weapons to Ukraine.

18 March 2022

Boris Johnson has praised a Ukrainian woman who said her country’s citizens are the “Spartans of the 21st century” in the fight against the Russian invasion.

Zhenya Dove gave a speech to the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen, ahead of the Prime Minister’s appearance, asking the UK for more help.

Speaking after her, Mr Johnson said he was “more convinced than ever” Russian president Vladimir Putin’s military venture would fail.

He said he had spoken to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky earlier on Friday, and pledged to send more defensive weapons.

Ms Dove, an aid worker who lives in Edinburgh, said her parents lived in the city of Kherson, which is occupied by Russian forces.

In an emotional speech, she said: “Silence is a luxury I can no longer afford.

“I didn’t know much about war until recently. One day I woke up and almost everybody I know and loved was in tears – their lives destroyed.

“The main landmark of my hometown now has the Russian flag flown over it.”

The UK had “stepped up” and helped Ukraine “before anyone in the EU had finished their morning croissant”, she said.

Scottish Conservative Conference
Boris Johnson at the Scottish Conservative Conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She continued: “The tenacity, bravery and unity of the Ukrainian people is something to behold and admire.

“My countrymen are Spartans of the 21st century, they really are, they’re so amazing.

“The only thing I ask, I beg you, is please don’t let them die like their spiritual ancestors.”

The Prime Minister said she had given an “extraordinary and moving speech”.

Describing his call with Mr Zelensky, he said:  “I said we stand with you at a time when your people are facing such horror with such courage.”

Mr Johnson said he had pledged to do more to help Ukraine, saying more defensive weapons would be sent and more action to “tighten the vice” around Mr Putin’s economy.

Mr Johnson said: “I am more than ever convinced that Putin will fail.

“He will fail, because in his catastrophic venture in Ukraine he fatally underestimated the heroism and the resolve of the Ukrainians to fight.

“He underestimated western unity.

“And among other things, by the way, he underestimated the passionate commitment of the people in this country to help.”

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