An Oxford University student asked Ukrainian President Zelensky if the UK government should get more involved in the war.

It was asked part of a live broadcast given by President Zelensky to a number of UK universities today and organised by the Ukrainian Students Union (USU).

Oxford Ukrainian Society President Ruslan Pavlyshyn, 25, asked the question on behalf of his university, in the context of two British citizens being sentenced to death in Ukraine by Russia yesterday.

AS IT HAPPENED: Zelensky addresses students at Oxford Union

Oxford Mail: Oxford Ukrainian Society President Ruslan Pavlyshyn, 25 years old, after addressing Ukrainian President Zelensky.Oxford Ukrainian Society President Ruslan Pavlyshyn, 25 years old, after addressing Ukrainian President Zelensky.

He said: "Yesterday two British citizens have been sentenced to death in a short trial. It is a flagrant breach of international law.

"Consequently do you expect the UK to become more involved in the war?"

Two British men, 28-year-old Aiden Aslin, from Newark, 48-year-old Shaun Pinner, from Watford, are being sentenced to death because of 'terrorism' after serving as Ukrainian marines.

President Zelensky replied, through his translator: "This is a great tragedy and it is so unright. 

"The British citizens are persecuted. This is a tragic habit for those people, they do everything in this way and we cannot have any kind of excuses. 

"After that I cannot say whether UK should be more strongly involved."

He continued: "Boris Johnson, is one of your alumni, was one of the first to defence to come to our rescue in this war.

"The EU countries should at last unite and decide solely in actions, not words." 

Oxford Mail: Ukraine Government handout photo dated 09/04/22 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. PAUkraine Government handout photo dated 09/04/22 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. PA

On how it had felt to address the president student Mr Pavlyshyn said to this paper: "It feels like an enormous honor and a huge responsibility. 

"We thought about the questions and it took some time. We wanted to ask a question that spoke to British concerns and the Ukranians living here. 

"It has been a very challenging time in our lives. The difficult aspect is to keep going but at the same time doing the work has helped us to carry on. 

"[The Ukranian Students Union] has been a way to release the frustration in a constructive way."

Mr Pavlyshyn is a Ukranian student, studying at Pembroke College under the Ertugen scholarship.

President of Oxford's Rueben College Lionel Tarassenko, a British engineer and academic, also addressed the president at the talk to express his solidarity. 

Oxford Mail: Oxford Union is packed as the audience waits eagerly to hear from President Zelensky.Oxford Union is packed as the audience waits eagerly to hear from President Zelensky.

He shared how the university has launched a scholarship for 20 Ukrainian students to undertake a one year master's with all costs covered. 

He said: "We are offering one year Masters because we hope that students will go back and help in the reconstruction stage of your country."

Other universities taking part included Birmingham, Cambridge, City University of London, Coventry, Glasgow, LSE, Manchester, Oxford and UCL, with each university allowed to only ask one question. 

Read more from this author

This story was written by Shosha Adie

She joined the team in 2022 as a digital reporter.   

To get in touch with her email: Shosha.Adie@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter: @ShoshaAdie

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