The speech made by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, on 7 April 2022.
Dear Mr. Speaker!
Dear Mrs. President!
Dear Mr. Prime Minister!
Dear members of the Greek Parliament!
For more than a month now, my every morning begins with Mariupol. With what is happening in this Ukrainian city, which Russian troops are simply destroying. This has never happened in the history of Europe in all the years after World War II that a city is destroyed to ashes, destroyed completely. That it is under blockade and its inhabitants are killed with starvation and thirst.
It was a city of half a million people! About a hundred thousand people still remain in it. But there are virtually no undamaged buildings, the vast majority of buildings in the city are completely destroyed.
The Russian military destroyed everything. They blew up hospitals, maternity hospitals and apartment buildings. They even blew up the city theater where civilians were hiding from bombs and next to which were inscriptions that everyone saw – the inscriptions “children”. The inscriptions seen by Russian pilots, which did not stop them from air strikes.
Mariupol is almost destroyed. I’m sure each of you has already seen what the city looks like now. After it was approached by the Russian Federation. Just ruins. This is what Russia has done with our peaceful Mariupol. But also with your peaceful Mariupol. This city has always been home to a large Greek community. The Ukrainian Greek community is one of the largest in the world. For centuries, our people have lived side by side, raised children and built the future.
The ties between Ukraine and Greece are so old that it is now impossible to find their origin. Greek poleis on our Black Sea coast, cultural exchange and trade, community coexistence – all this is thousands of years of history. Greek Chersonesus was even depicted on our national currency – hryvnia.
It is with Greece that the development of Christianity is tied not only in our country, but also in our region in general. Ukraine is one of the largest Orthodox countries, and the light of Baptism was brought by the Greeks. If someone tried to snatch Greek roots from Ukrainian history and culture we would lose a fundamental part of ourselves.
In the same way the basic things of your history, your national self-perception are tied with the Ukrainian land. “Freedom or death!” – these words now reflect not only our struggle against Russia’s attempt to conquer Ukraine. This is a part of your identity that comes from our Odesa. Another southern city of Ukraine that Russia may try to destroy, as well as Mariupol.
When your foreign minister was in Odesa last week, the city was experiencing the consequences of Russian shelling, another missile attack. There are no gunshots in Odesa today. But why? Only because the Armed Forces of Ukraine are deterring Russian attacks and repelling barbaric Russian troops from their direction of attack on Odesa long-agreed by Russian leadership.
Russian troops have now brought death and destruction to where Ukrainians and Greeks have enjoyed peace and prosperity for centuries. Moreover, Russia has begun a new deportation of people from the south of Ukraine. At least tens of thousands of our people have already been deported to Russia and to the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russia. These are residents of Mariupol and other cities and communities that came under attack by Russian troops.
This forced relocation of people by Russia is not the first one for both Greeks and Ukrainians. But the Russian state is carrying it out now as if deportation is not the last one. Russia is absolutely convinced of its impunity for everything it does.
We have to stop it! We must bring Russia to justice. We must save Odesa from the same destruction that Mariupol suffered. We must find everyone, all the people deported by Russia. We must save at least those in Mariupol who are still alive and who can be saved!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Filiki Eteria, founded in our Odesa, has played a role in the history of your country, which cannot be overestimated. And I urge you now, openly, to create such a new union of friends, which will be able to save the Ukrainians and Greeks of the south of our state. Which will be able to help Mariupol.
The city needs humanitarian aid! The city needs its people – survivors and wounded – to be saved. Russia has been blocking Mariupol since the beginning of March, blocking on land and at sea. It does not allow even basic humanitarian cargo into the city. I am convinced that the strength of Greece can help carry out this mission. Days are numbered.
And now I ask you to listen not only to me. Regarding the fate of this city. Please listen to the two defenders of Mariupol who are now there, right there, and together with their colleagues are trying to stop the Russian offensive. Listen to two Ukrainians, but also two Greeks as well.
One of them is forced to wear a mask, not to show his face. Because his family, his parents are in one of the Russian-occupied towns. I hope you understand.
I am grateful to Greece for the humanitarian and defense support already provided to Ukraine. I am grateful for the support of the general sanctions policy of the democratic world. But the war continues. The destruction of Mariupol continues. You have heard these heroes. The deportation of people from the territories where Russian troops came continues.
I urge you to use the influence of your state and your opportunities, as a member of the European Union, to organize the rescue of Mariupol. I urge you to do more to make Russia seek peace and even give up its dreams of conquering Ukraine. Because this war that Russia has started against us is actually destroying everything that Ukrainians and Greeks have created together in a long time. What will be left after the Russian artillery and Russian bombs? I will tell you: they will destroy all our common history, our common heritage.
And we will not be comforted saying about Mariupol in the future: “These are new Thermopylae”. When the heroes died, stopping a large enemy army. Now we can save our heroes.
And we can also drive the enemy Russian army out of Ukrainian land. We can teach Russia and any other potential aggressors once and for all that whoever chooses war always loses. He who tries to deprive of independence and destroy the territorial integrity of states always loses. Anyone who blackmails Europe with an economic or energy crisis always loses.
Let’s be honest, Russia’s actions from the beginning were aimed not only at Ukraine, but at Europe as a whole. Russia is doing everything to keep Europeans without available energy. And to make energy poverty a new reality on the continent. Russia is doing everything to provoke an outbreak of inflation for many nations. Russia last year artificially created a deficit in the European gas market. And now it is doing everything to artificially create a deficit in the world food market.
It is a matter of honor for Europeans to respond to such a policy of the Russian Federation. As long as Russian troops block peaceful cities and deport people, no Russian bank has the right to make money from the world’s financial system. They all must be blocked! All, not just part.
As long as this pointless and brutal war continues, no Russian vessel has the right to enter the ports of the democratic world. Why help them? For them to earn even more money for missiles and bombs to destroy not only Mariupol, but also Odesa and other Ukrainian cities?
And first of all – no support for Russian tankers, these oil carriers, which provide Russia with a constant flow of money for the killings.
Ukraine needs weapons to force Russian troops to leave our country. In particular, air defense systems, artillery systems and shells, armored vehicles and other things that everyone in the West is well aware of. The sooner Ukraine receives this assistance, the more lives we will be able to save in Ukraine.
And one more thing. Historical. Our nations have always been and will always be closely bonded. I believe that we will be able to bring peace to our Ukrainian land. We will be able to bring to justice all those responsible for these war crimes against Ukrainians, against Greeks and against all other people who fell victim to the Russian military.
We will be able to rebuild Mariupol and all other Ukrainian communities where Ukrainians and Greeks will live just as peacefully and with respect for each other as it was before.
But I also believe that Ukraine and Greece will soon live on an equal footing in our common European home, the European Union. I believe in this! I know it!
We will win everyone! But only together!
Thank you for your support!
Glory to Ukraine!