In an impassioned, emotional speech to members of the European Union on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a standing ovation as he pleaded for acceptance to the EU, declaring, “Do prove that you indeed are Europeans and then, life will win over death, light will win over darkness.” As the members of the EU applauded, Zelensky raised his fist in a gesture of hope.
Zelensky began, “Over the last couple of days, I don’t know how to welcome and greet everybody because I cannot say good morning or can say good afternoon or good evening, and that’s true because every day for some people, this day is not good. For some people, this day is the last one.”
“I speak today, now, about my citizens, citizens of Ukraine, who are defending by paying the ultimate price, they are defending freedom,” he continued. “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.”
“And 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.”
Referring to the sheets of paper in front of him, he noted, “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, for the desire to be equal as much as you are. 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 everyone and I’m sure, I’m convinced,” he said defiantly. “There is an expression: European choice of Ukraine. That’s what we’re striving for and that’s what we’re going to and we went to. So I would like to hear that from you to us, we could hear that Ukrainian choice for Europe from you.”
“I have some time off here because we have breaks between the missile strikes and bombardments,” he said. “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. There were always many Russians there and they were always friendly. There were warm relations there. 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, two cruise missiles hit this Freedom Square, dozens of killed ones,” he continued. “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, very much so. 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. Without you, Ukraine is going be lonesome. We have proven our strength, we have proven that as a minimum we are exactly the same as you are so do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans and then, life will win over death, light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.
Then he raised his clenched fist.