Most world leaders don’t get this type of embrace from the press.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky interrupted a news conference — and threw security measures to the wind — to hug a BBC Ukraine journalist during a surprise visit to the UK Wednesday.
The wartime leader was taking questions alongside UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after pushing for fighter jets in a dramatic speech to lawmakers when BBC’s Ukraine correspondent prefaced her question by admitting she would like to give Zelensky a hug, but would probably not be allowed.
“Greetings Mr. President, I would really like to hug you but I’m not allowed,” the unidentified reporter said.
“Why not, please, do give me a hug,” Zelensky, 45, responded.
The Ukrainian commander-in-chief, still wearing his military-green colored sweater and pants, then left the lectern and walked over to the woman for a quick squeeze, as Sunak and the throng of media applauded.
The journalist then asked Sunak, 42, if he thought the UK’s decision to send military jets to the war-torn nation was taking “too long.”
Zelensky and Sunak also embraced at the news conference, in which the British leader insisted “nothing was off the table” when it came to arming the Ukraine army in its bid to fight off Russian invaders.
In a surprise move President Zelensky hugs a journalist from BBC Ukraine during his press conference with Rishi Sunak.pic.twitter.com/JFkngB267f
— First Edition (@FirstEdition) February 8, 2023
Sunak said he had instructed his defense secretary to look into the best way to supply Ukraine with jets and other artillery ahead of an expected renewed Russian offensive in the spring.
Britain had said it could train Ukraine pilots on “NATO-standard fighter jets” within weeks as it weighed sending F-35 or Typhoon planes, which would mark an upgrade from Ukraine’s Soviet-era fleet.
“We think it is right to provide both short-term equipment … that can help win the war now, but also look to the medium to long term to make sure Ukraine has every possible capacity it requires,” Downing Street spokesperson Max Blain said.
During the Ukrainian president’s second trip abroad since the war began last February, he made a powerful appeal for the fighter planes at a speech to lawmakers in Westminster Hall.
Zelensky, wearing his trademark olive sweatshirt said a fleet of jets would be “wings for freedom,” as he presented the speaker of the House of Commons with a Ukrainian air force helmet.
The president also met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, who told Zelensky “we’ve all been worried about you and thinking about your country for so long.”
He then visited Paris for dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
With Post wires
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