Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emotional address to the European Parliament on Tuesday, as his country continued its fierce resistance on the sixth day of a brutal Russian invasion that is increasingly targeting civilians.
Why it matters: Zelensky has cast Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an attack on Europe and its democratic values. He is now pleading with the EU to grant Ukraine membership, formally signing an application on Monday after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine is “one of us.”
Driving the news: Zelensky’s address came hours after a Russian missile strike caused massive damage to Kharkiv’s Freedom Square, a civilian area in Ukraine’s second-largest city.
What they’re saying: “This is the price of freedom. We are fighting just for our land. And for our freedom, despite the fact that all of the cities of our country are now blocked,” Zelensky told the European Parliament, as his translator began to choke up.
- “Every square today, no matter what it’s called, is going to be called Freedom Square, in every city of our country. No one is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians,” he continued.
- “We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one.”
The big picture: The leaders of nine eastern and central European countries — Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia — have called on the EU to immediately begin the process of granting Ukraine membership.
- “We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for life, 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,” Zelensky said.
- “The European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that’s for sure. … Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans, and then life will win over death. And light will win over darkness.”
“Glory be to Ukraine,” Zelensky concluded, as hundreds of EU lawmakers and top officials responded with a standing ovation.