Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses European Parliament members by video link on Tuesday. PHOTO: STEPHANIE LECOCQ/SHUTTERSTOCK
BRUSSELS—Amid intensifying Russian attacks on Ukraine, the country’s president delivered an emotional video address to the European Parliament, telling European Union leaders that his compatriots are dying to achieve freedom and equality.
“We are giving our lives for the right to be equal,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the special session of the EU’s legislature. “Prove that you are with us and will not let us go.” Unshaven and clad in a green army T-shirt, seated in front of a blank wall next to a Ukrainian flag, Mr. Zelensky spoke extemporaneously for more than seven minutes and made a point that he wasn’t delivering prepared remarks.
“I don’t read off the sheet because the paper phase in the life of my country has ended,” he said, waving a sheet of paper. “We’re dealing with killed people, with real life, you know?”
Mr. Zelensky reiterated a recent call for the EU to grant Ukraine membership. In comments following Mr. Zelensky’s address, European Council President Charles Michel —who represents the leaders of the 27 EU countries—said the Ukrainian request to be a candidate for EU membership should be given serious consideration. Officials from the bloc’s 27 member states, which would need to approve the candidacy, discussed Ukraine’s EU bid on Monday.
Mr. Zelensky said two cruise missiles had hit Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, on Tuesday morning, killing dozens of people. He explained that the city, near Russia, has long been a point of friendly exchange between the two countries and has more than 20 universities. In its center is Freedom Square, the largest square in Ukraine and, Mr. Zelensky said, the largest in Europe.
“Can you imagine, this morning two cruise missiles hit this Freedom Square, with dozens killed at once,” Mr. Zelensky said, visibly angry. “This is the price of freedom.”
Mr. Zelensky also said Russian forces killed 16 children on Monday, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his forces are targeting military installations and infrastructure.
“Where are our children? What kind of military factories do they work at?” Mr. Zelensky said. “He killed 16 people just yesterday,” he said of Mr. Putin.
“We are fighting for our rights. For our freedom. For our lives,” Mr. Zelensky said. “And now we are fighting for our survival.”
The address received a standing ovation that lasted for more than a minute.
European Parliament members give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a standing ovation on Tuesday. PHOTO: JONAS ROOSENS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES