UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion to Britain’s exit from the European Union or “Brexit” in a speech at the Conservative Party Conference Saturday.
“I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time,” Johnson said. “I can give you a couple of famous recent examples. When the British people voted for Brexit in such large numbers, I don’t believe it was that they were remotely hostile to foreigners.”
“It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself,” he added.
The comments come as the UK is offering to pay people $456 a month to host Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing their war-torn country.
“The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can,” Michael Gove, the country’s minister for housing, said when the “Homes for Ukraine” program was announced in March.
The UN reported Friday that over 6 million Ukrainians had been displaced inside Ukraine amid the invasion. Others have been forced to flee to neighboring countries including Poland.
Johnson said “we thank and applaud” the people who are opening their homes to the Ukrainian refugees.
“We stand with the Ukrainian people and our hearts go out to them,” Johnson said. “With every day that Ukraine’s heroic resistance continues, it is clear that Putin has made a catastrophic mistake.”
Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have spoken multiple times since the started of the invasion, with the UK giving Ukraine more than 220 million euros since the invasion began.
The government said 100 million euros would go to help the Ukrainian economy, while another 120 million euros would be used for humanitarian assistance.