Even as a massive Russian military convoy was menacing the capital city of Kyiv, defiant Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a barn-burner of a speech to European Parliament on Tuesday that moved his English translator to the brink of tears.
“We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom … nobody is going to enter and intervene with our freedom, believe you me,” the English translator said, his voice quavering as he interpreted Zelenskyy’s appearance via video conference.
The Ukrainian president, who’s rallied his nation to unexpectedly fierce resistance to the unprovoked Russian invasion, was bolstering his appeal to Europe’s leaders for swift entry into the EU.
“The European Union is going to be much stronger with us,” Zelenskyy said. “We have proven our strength. … 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!”
At the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, members of Parliament rose to their feet to applaud as Zelenskyy wrapped up his emotional appeal. The president’s remarks included an impromptu re-naming of every square in every city in Ukraine.
“Every square of today, no matter what it’s called, is going to be called ‘Freedom Square’ in every city of our country,” he said. “Nobody is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians.”
The Russian invasion stretched into a sixth day Tuesday, following weeks of Vladimir Putin’s troops massing on its neighbor’s border. Zelenskyy defied expectations by staying in his home country to lead the fight, inspiring a thus-far effective deflection of Russia’s first wave.
As Zelenskyy was making his remarks, a 40-mile convoy of Russian military vehicles was reportedly approaching the nation’s capital city of Kyiv. Meanwhile, the EU accepted Ukraine’s application for admission, kicking off a special procedure to bring it onboard; the union is also trying to get Ukraine on its power grid in the coming weeks.
To those ends, it certainly helps to have a strong leader’s inspiring words resonating in the chamber.
“Our people are motivated and we are fighting for freedoms and our lives,” Zelenskyy said. “We are fighting for our survival.”