'No one died for Brexit': Former Ukraine president asks Boris Johnson to 'please' avoid comparison

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo speaks to Ukraine's former president about the continuing attacks in the country and is given an insight into the mind of Vladimir Putin

Ukraine's former president Petro Poroshenko has asked Boris Johnson to "please" not compare the UK's Brexit vote to his country's fight against Russia - after the Prime Minister appeared to do so over the weekend.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy's predecessor told ITV News that "zero" people died because of Brexit but "thousands" of Ukrainians had died defending their home from Vladimir Putin's military.

"Only today we have 150 Ukrainian children who were killed by Russian soldiers and Russian artillery," he said when asked about Prime Minister Johnson's comments.

"Can I ask you how many houses were destroyed because of Brexit? We have whole cities that have been completely destroyed," he said, adding: "With this situation, please, no comparison."

'How many Britons died because of Brexit? Zero': Poroshenko on Johnson's comment

Mr Johnson also sparked anger in the UK with his comparison, which he made while delivering a speech to the Scottish Conservatives spring conference.

He said: "I know that it's the the instinct of the people of this country like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time.

"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 remotely because they were remotely hostile to foreigners - it was because they wanted to be free."

Downing Street denied Mr Johnson was seeking to make a direct comparison between the fighting in Ukraine and the UK vote to leave the European Union.

On Monday, the prime minister's official spokesman said: "As the prime minister's speech made clear, there was not a direct comparison made between fighting in Ukraine.

"As the chancellor (Rishi Sunak) said, they are not directly analogous. He was making observations about people's desire for freedom.

"It is worth noting that the Ukrainian ambassador was in the audience at the time and gave a standing ovation at the end of the speech, and he tweeted his thanks to the prime minister."

The prime minister said the British public voted for Brexit in order 'to be free'

Mr Poroshenko - speaking in military uniform from the Ukrainian capital - urged Mr Johnson to visit Kyiv, along with other Western leaders, to show Putin how united they are in opposition to the invasion.

"[Putin] thinks he that he's almost encircled Kyiv because this is extremely deadly, dangerous to stay now in Kyiv, but exactly because of that I make a public appeal to the Western leaders, including President Biden, including Prime Minister Johnson, including President Charles Michel, including leaders of the European Union, please come to Kyiv.

"Be together with us, be symbolic, demonstrate that we together want to defend Kyiv and Ukrainians."

He added: "We never give up. We are ready for negotiations about security."

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