European Interest

President Zelenskyy: Russia is a grave threat to the European way of life

Office of the President of Ukraine

On Thursday, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the European Parliament during an extraordinary plenary session in Brussels.

Opening the session, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola welcomed the President Zelenskyy underlyining that “this is an extraordinary moment, in extraordinary times. It has been almost one year since the brutal, illegal invasion of sovereign Ukraine by Russia.”

Ukraine is Europe

“In all that time, Mr President, your leadership has inspired your people and inspired every corner of the globe. When the world thinks of Ukraine they think of heroes fighting the odds, of David beating Goliath. They think of the icons of Snake Island, the warriors of Mariupol, the liberators of so many occupied towns and villages. Their names will be spoken of for generations,” said President Metsola.

“Notwithstanding the bombs that fall every day, your grain continues to feed the world. When a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, you stood up and sent rescuers, equipment and expertise. That is real solidarity.

“I am proud to say that this House of European Democracy, its members, our European Union – have always stood with you. We understand that you are fighting not only for your values, but for ours. For those ideals that bind us as sisters and brothers. That make us, all, European.

Because Ukraine is Europe and your nation’s future is in the European Union.

We know the sacrifice your people have endured for Europe and we must honour it not only with words but with action: With the political will to ensure easier trade and with the fastest possible accession process. With funds for your people, with help in reconstruction, with training for your troops. With military equipment and defence systems you need to win. And, now, States must consider, quickly, as a next step, providing long range systems and the jets you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted.

Our response must be proportional to the threat – and the threat is existential.

I grew up hearing my grandparents’ stories of my country’s last three fighter planes. When all seemed lost, when they had no ammunition, no food and no hope, all that remained were three barely functioning planes that they called Faith, Hope and Charity – named after what they were fighting for, after what was at stake. The planes meant one more day of liberty, just long enough for help to arrive. They meant peace.

You do not need to convince anyone here of how essential it is to support Ukraine. To back all those giving their lives. To support the values we preach with concrete measures. To ensure victory, real peace – based on your 10-point plan, accountability for those who committed war crimes and for the protection of freedom for all Ukrainians.

And I want to repeat the promise I made to you when we met in Kyiv last April: we have your backWe were with you then, we are with you now, we will be with you for as long as it takes.

Freedom will prevail. Peace will reign. You will win. Slava Ukraini”

Zelenskyy: Kremlin destroys the basis of our Europe.

In his address to MEPs, President Zelenskyy stressed how Russia is trying to annihilate not only sovereign Ukraine, but also the European “way of life”. He outlined how he sees Europe as a continent steeped in rules, values, equality and fairness, and (…) a place where Ukraine is firmly at home. The Kremlin, on the other hand, is doing its utmost to destroy European values, President Zelenskyy said, stressing how Ukraine is fighting for and protecting Europe from this anti-European force.

“This total war that has been unleashed by Russia is not just about territory in one part of Europe or another. Its threat is not only in the fact that there is a dictator with huge stockpiles of Soviet weapons and weapons inflow from other dictatorships, in particular the Iranian regime,” stressed President Zelenskyy.

“In order to be able to wage this war, the Kremlin has been consistently destroying, step by step, year after year, what we see as the basis of our Europe. The sacred value of human life has been completely destroyed in Russia as well. No one matters to the authorities there, except those inside the Kremlin walls, their relatives and their wallets. For them, for the Kremlin, all others, all one hundred and forty million citizens are just bodies capable of carrying weapons – carrying weapons to Ukraine, carrying weapons on the battlefield, keeping others in line or being in line themselves.

“The rule of violence and obedience are the rules there instead of law. The Russian regime not only hates everything, any sociality and any diversity, but also deliberately invests in xenophobia and tries to make all the inhuman things that happened in the 1930s and 1940s part of the norm on our continent. But will it last forever? This is a question for all of us. The answer is no! No!

“Europe! We are defending ourselves against the most anti-European force in the modern world. We are defending ourselves. We, Ukrainians, are on the battlefield with you.”

President Zelenskyy thanked all Europeans who have supported Ukraine in the fight against the Russian invader and all those who have helped Ukrainian refugees arriving in the EU. Looking ahead, he called on Europe and Ukraine to walk together and define a common European future. However, he underlined that, for our dreams for our children and grandchildren to come true, we need peace and security. These dreams will not be possible if we do not overcome this anti-European force trying to steal our Europe from us, he concluded.

This was President Zelenskyy’s first official visit to the European Parliament, after having addressed MEPs remotely during an extraordinary session on 1 March 2022, shortly after Russia started its war against Ukraine. He also spoke before plenary on 14 December the same year, when Parliament’s 2022 Sakharov Prize was awarded to the brave people of Ukraine.

You can watch the speech here.

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