Andrew Marr: How and when does the brutal war in Ukraine end?

8 February 2023, 18:32 | Updated: 8 February 2023, 18:37

Andrew Marr has said that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky&squot;s call for fighter jets as he addressed Parliament was "hard politics", said he showed he has the theatrical streak shared by all great leaders.
Andrew Marr has said that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky's call for fighter jets as he addressed Parliament was "hard politics", said he showed he has the theatrical streak shared by all great leaders. Picture: LBC

By Chris Samuel

Andrew Marr has said that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky's call for fighter jets as he addressed Parliament was "hard politics", and showed he has the theatrical streak shared by all great leaders.

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, the presenter said Parliament is rightly united in the need to support Mr Zelensky and the fight against Putin's barbarism, but that he can't keep wondering how and when the conflict with Russia will truly end.

Describing his experience of listening to the historic speech on Wednesday, he said: "I've lived in London for around 40 years and I honestly can't remember a day as beautiful as this one’s been.

"Ice cold, gin-clear air, deep blue shadows, early flowers… And I went into Westminster Hall, and stood in the chill air and the sunlight, to listen to Volodymr Zelensky talk about this moment in history, and it felt like a moment from history.

"Parliamentary staff in knee breeches and swords, with archbishops, earls, left-wing firebrands and cabinet ministers all standing patiently, rammed together, to hear this tough, fit looking man in military fatigues to talk about heroism, evil and the coming victory.

"Zelensky, like all great leaders, has a theatrical streak and he certainly had an agenda for Westminster Hall. First he told us about an earlier London visit where he was shown the 1940 war room bunker used by Churchill and invited to sit on Churchill's famous armchair.

'A moment from history' - Andrew Marr breaks down Zelenskyy's speech

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"What was going through his mind? Then, he told us he was going to see the King; and the King had been an air force pilot. And in Ukraine, Zelensky said, all our Air Force pilots are kings. Inside the 900 year old hall, emotion was building.

"Next, Zelensky gestured for a cardboard box to be brought to him, out of which he brandished the pilot’s helmet of a Ukrainian Air Force Ace.

"On it, written in Ukrainian, he said, were the words: “we have freedom. Give us the wings to defend it.” Got the message now?

"This was a visit, this was a speech, about fighters. It was to thank the British for training Ukrainian pilots on Typhoons, our latest wings - and strongly hinting we’d be sending them fight over Ukraine very soon.

"This wasn't just grand talk. This was hard politics. And, as Prime Minister's Questions has made clear a little earlier, there is almost no disagreement anywhere in Parliament about it.

"Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, says Russia must be defeated. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, absolutely agrees.

"And what Putin has done has been barbaric, hideous; and of course Ukraine must push him and his murderous army out. But I keep asking myself one question - well, two - How and When does this war end? There's no sign of either side giving up. There is no compromise or armistice position to be discussed.

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"This could go on for years and years. And we are ever more deeply part of it. First missiles, then tanks, now aircraft. That spring of 1940, with Churchill in his armchair, was a moment of great danger. This is, as well. No one’s suggesting marching on Moscow.

"Perhaps the defeat of the Russian army, even if it doesn't result in nuclear weapons being used, might mean the fall of President Putin. Fine. But after that, what?

"A humiliated, furious Russia, with Moscow’s nuclear forces falling into the hands of even more extreme nationalists? What kind of peace does that bring later in the decade?

"Now, if you turn the argument on me and say - OK, Andrew what would you actually like to happen - what do you think the end of this should be? - I don't have any good answers. None. All I’ve got is good questions.

"And that, I concede, is my weakness. But standing in that great hall, on this beautiful early spring day, with everyone agreeing, and with Britain taking the next big step - I just couldn’t make those questions go away."

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