Zelenskyy receives standing ovation in EU parliament – as Russian minister’s speech prompts UN walkout

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Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy raised his fist in a defiant salute as he was given a standing ovation by the European Parliament following an emotional speech.

In an address to an emergency gathering of the Brussels chamber on Tuesday – which moved an interpreter to tears – Mr Zelenskyy urged European nations to “prove that you are with us” as his country fights to hold off a Russian invasion.

His speech, via video link, came a day after the Ukrainian leader signed an application to join the European Union.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy raises his fist in a salute as he was given a standing ovation by the European Parliament
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy raises his fist in a salute as he was given a standing ovation by the European Parliament

“Our people are very much motivated, very much so,” Mr Zelenskyy told MEPs, as his countrymen entered a sixth day under Russian attack.

“We are fighting for our rights, for our freedoms, for our life. And now we are fighting for survival. This is the highest of our motivations.

“But we are also fighting to be equal members of Europe. I believe that today we are showing everybody that’s exactly what we are.

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“The EU is going to be much stronger with us, that’s for sure. Without you, Ukraine is going to be lonesome.

“We have proven our strengths, we have proven that – at 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 are indeed Europeans, and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine.”

Mr Zelenskyy’s address was met by standing applause from MEPs, many of whom wore or raised Ukrainian flags, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

MEPs later heard from the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, who spoke in front of a TV screen showing scenes of Russian weaponry hitting Ukrainian cities.

After the speeches by Ukrainian leaders, Mr Michel told MEPs the EU would have to “seriously” look at Ukraine’s “legitimate” application for EU membership.

But he admitted it would be “difficult” as there were “different views” within the 27-member bloc on future enlargement.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, a large number of diplomats staged a walkout from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday as Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov began to speak.

The boycott by envoys from the EU, US, UK, Japan and others left only a few remaining in the room as the ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin made his remote address.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss posted on Twitter: “The UK and 50+ countries staged a walk out of UN Human Rights Council as Russia started speaking today.

“Lavrov’s statement was full of disinformation and did not deserve the attention of the UN HRC.

“Russia is isolated and should be ashamed to sit in the UN chamber.”

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