Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s emotional live video speech to members of the European Union was met by a standing ovation. In a plea for action, Zelensky said: “Do prove that you indeed are Europeans…[so that] life will win over death [and] light will win over darkness.” Zelensky raised his fist in a gesture of hope and resolve as members of the EU applauded enthusiastically.
Zelensky began his speech by noting that because of the horrors of the Russian invasion, he could not even express a common greeting:
“…I don’t know how to welcome and greet everybody because I cannot say good morning or can say good afternoon or good evening…because…for [my] people, this day is not good. For some people, this day is the last one.”
Zelensky pleaded for his people, saying:
“I speak today, now, about my citizens…who are defending [Ukraine] by paying the ultimate price; they are defending freedom.”
Thankful for the supportive EU assembly, Zelensky said:
“I’m very happy that what I’ve seen here now and heard here now. I’m very glad to sense this mood – united, unifying mood – I’m happy that we have unified today, all of you, all the countries of the European Union but I did not know that this is the price that we’ll have to pay.”
Speaking of the impact of the Russian invasion, Zelensky reported:
“… it’s a tragedy for me; it’s a tragedy for every Ukrainian; it’s a tragedy for our state, this high price, very high price, thousands of people who were killed,” he stated. “Two revolutions. One war. And five days of full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation.”
Noting how life has changed for the people of Ukraine, Zelensky pointed to his notes in front of him and said:
“You know, I don’t read off the paper, off the sheet, because the paper phase in the life of my country has ended. Now, we’re dealing with reality; we’re dealing with killed people, real life. And you know, I believe that we, today, we’re giving lives for values, for rights, for freedom…”
Zelensky’s voice was heavy as he said:
“We are giving away our best people, the strongest one, the most value-based ones. Ukrainians are incredible and very often we’d love to say that we’ll win over everyone and I’m very happy that you’re not only talking about it, but you can see that.”
“And we indeed, we will overcome…and I’m sure, I’m convinced,” he said defiantly.
Again, noting how life for all Ukrainians has changed, Zelensky said:
“I have some time off here because we have breaks between the missile strikes and bombardments. This morning was a very tragic one for us. Two cruise missiles hit Kharkiv, the city which is located to the borders of the Russian Federation…
“…More than 20 universities are there. It’s the city that has the largest number of universities in our country. The youth is bright, smart there. The people who gathered there all the time and were gathering there all the time for celebrating all celebrations at the largest square in our country – the Freedom Square – and this is the largest square in Europe and that’s true. This is called the Freedom Square.”
“Can you imagine,” Zelensky said with sorrow in his voice, that “two cruise missiles hit this Freedom Square, dozens of killed ones. This is the price of freedom we are fighting just for our land and for our freedom…
Despite the fact that cities of our country are now blocked, nobody is going to enter and intervene with our freedom and country, and believe you me, every square of today, no matter what it’s called, is going to be called as today, ‘Freedom Square.’
“…In every city of our country nobody’s going to break us,” he declared. “We’re strong. We’re Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one. Yesterday 16 children were killed…
“Again and again President Putin is going to say that is some kind of operation and we are hitting a military infrastructure. Where are our children, what kind of military factories do they work at? What tanks are they going with or launching cruise missiles? He killed 16 people yesterday.”
“Our people are very much motivated…We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for our life and now we are fighting for survival. And this is the highest of our motivation. But we are fighting also to be equal members of Europe…
“I believe that today, we are showing everybody that’s exactly what we are. The European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that’s for sure. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans…[so that] life will win over death [and] light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.”
Members of the EU assembly responded with a standing ovation.
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