"Glory to Ukraine!" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the European Parliament, to which deputies made the ritual answer, "Glory to the Heros!"
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived to a standing ovation in the European Parliament, addressing EU lawmakers in Brussels on the second day of his European tour on February 9.
Beginning his speech with “Slava Ukraini”, Zelenskiy was greeted with a passionate “Heroyam Slava” by EU MPs. Compared to his speech in London the previous day, the Ukrainian leader didn’t overtly push for fighter-jets and heavy weaponry.
Instead, he focused on Ukraine’s flourishing comradery with the European Union and emphasised the need to defend the “European way of life”.
“This is our Europe, this is our way of life,” he said. “For Ukraine, it's a way home (...) I’m here to defend my people’s way home.”
Nevertheless, the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, told the Union to consider “providing long-range systems and jets” in her introductory speech for the Ukrainian president. She emphasised that the EU will be with Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.
“Our response must be proportional to the threat, and the threat is existential,” Metsola said.
Already, Zelenskiy claims that several European countries are ready to send aircraft and will hold a series of bilateral meetings concerning the topic. However, he did not mention who will attend the meeting or which countries are keen to send planes, the Kyiv Independent reported.
Zelenskiy stressed that together, Ukraine and the EU are facing down the “most anti-European force in the world”, and warned that Russia’s goal is not only to destroy Ukraine but also the “European way of life”.
He compared the Kremlin’s current ambitions to that of Europe’s bloody genocidal past in 1930s and 1940s, claiming that Moscow wants to realise these “inhumane realities” in the present day.
Describing Russia as a country ruled by “violence and obedience” instead of law, Zelenskiy said that the Kremlin doesn’t care about the lives of ordinary Russians and uses them as “bodies capable of carrying weapons”.
He emphasised that in order to achieve peace and security on the European continent, “we must overcome the anti-European force that is trying to steal from all of us”.
Zelenskiy thanked all Europeans for their support; from members of the European Parliament to students and NGOs. He stressed that ordinary citizens decide the fate of Europe.
“Each and every one of us matters. Each and every one of you is capable of impacting and influencing our common victory,” he said.
Following on from the historic EU summit in Kyiv last week, Zelenskiy repeated Ukraine’s membership ambition. He claimed that the Bloc’s decision to approve Ukraine’s candidate status over the summer “motivated us to stay strong”.
Although last week’s summit made it clear that the membership process wouldn’t happen overnight, Zelenskiy and other Ukrainian officials are certain that Ukraine will be a part of the Union.
Referring to the reforms the EU has requested Kyiv implement, Zelensiy said he sees Ukraine “fighting, defending itself and is modernising and reforming its institutions at the same time”.
In addition, he congratulated the EU on weaning itself off Russian fossil fuel dependence last year and “cleansing itself of the corruption of the Russian oligarchal businesses”.
“Europe is defending itself from the infiltration of the agents of Russia’s secret service who were looking at Europe as the hunting field for the opposition of the Russian regime,” he added.
Ending his speech, Zelenskiy said that “Europe will always remain Europe as long as we are together” and was invited to hold up the EU flag alongside Metsola.
Zelenskiy’s trip, his second since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, began in London and Paris the day before. Following his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Zelenskiy secured a training programme wherein the UK will train Ukrainian pilots to fly Nato standard aircraft.
Although the UK will not immediately provide fighter jets to Ukraine, Sunak said “nothing is off the table”. However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden have already stated they won’t provide the aircraft to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian President reiterated his request as he arrived at the Elysée Palace, although French President Emmanuel Macron has not confirmed whether it will provide Kyiv with the weapons it says it needs, the Guardian reported.
“The sooner Ukraine gets long-range heavy weaponry, the sooner our pilots get planes, the sooner this Russian aggression will end and we can return to peace in Europe,” Zelenskiy said in Paris.