The speech made by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, to the Parliament of Portugal on 21 April 2022.
Dear Mr. President of the Assembly!
Dear Mr. President!
Dear Mr. Prime Minister!
Dear ladies and gentlemen, deputies!
The people of Portugal!
I am grateful for the opportunity to address you at such a time, the darkest time for our state.
Yesterday, in the town of Borodyanka near our capital, two more graves of civilians killed by the Russian occupiers were found. In one of these graves there are the bodies of two 35-year-old men and a 15-year-old girl. In the second grave there are six people: four men and two women. They were killed when Russian troops controlled Borodyanka. The bodies were buried in the middle of the town, near ordinary houses. Such burials are found in all communities now, in all the cities we liberate from the Russian occupiers.
The world has already remembered the name of the Ukrainian city of Bucha, which is a 20-minute drive from Borodyanka. It remembered the horrible photos of the bodies of those killed just on the streets of Bucha. For weeks, the murdered people have laid on the road, on the sidewalks, near houses.
Russian soldiers did not even try to remove these corpses. And they did not allow, by the way, local residents who remained in the city to bury them.
I’m sure most of you have seen those photos. But in these photos it is far from everything the locals had to go through. The occupiers killed people even for fun and to loot their houses. People were thrown to die in the well. Tortured.
Executed. Grenades were thrown into the basements where people were hiding from shelling. The Russian military killed refugees on the roads. They opened fire on cars with the word “Children” written on them. Hundreds of such riddled and burned cars remained on the roads…
In the Kyiv region alone – and this is as of today, because not all burials have been found yet – the occupiers killed 1,126 Ukrainians. 40 of them are children.
In the Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and other regions of Ukraine, where Russian troops entered, they caused the same hell as in Borodyanka or Bucha.
Just one example. In the village of Yahidne in the Chernihiv region, the occupiers drove all the villagers into the basement of the school and kept them there for weeks. This is a small village school, a small basement in which about 10 people died of suffocation alone. The youngest child in the basement was 3 months old. Imagine a three month old baby! And the oldest person was 93 years old. And in total there were about 400 people in the basement!
More than three weeks. Day and night they were forbidden to go out of the basement even to the toilet. And when people asked for clothes for children, the occupiers demanded that they sing the Russian national anthem.
That’s how the Russian military had fun. This is the impunity they felt. This is what is happening in Ukraine now. In 2022.
We are fighting against Russian troops not just for our state. Not just for independence. But literally for the survival of our people. So that Ukrainians are not executed. So that Ukrainians are not tortured. So that Ukrainians are not raped. And so that Ukrainians are not deported to Russia.
The Russian occupiers have already deported at least 500,000 our citizens from the territory they have occupied. It’s like your two cities of Porto. Just imagine that. There were people – and now they are gone. 500 thousand people! This is deportation. This is what the worst totalitarian regimes of the past did.
The deported Ukrainians are deprived of means of communication, everything is taken away from them, even documents. They are distributed to the remote regions of Russia. The occupiers set up special filtration camps to distribute people. Some of those who get there are simply killed. Girls are raped.
Imagine what it’s like when a girl escapes from such a Russian filtration camp, and when asked how she did it, she says Russian soldiers simply didn’t like her. Because if they had liked her, she would have been raped and then killed, like many others.
During the 57 days of the full-scale war, we liberated about a thousand settlements of Ukraine, which were captured by Russia, by the invaders. However, the number of occupied cities and communities is much bigger.
Russian troops do not stop shelling and bombing our cities. They are destroying residential areas, any civilian infrastructure that allows cities to maintain normal life. Food warehouses, schools, universities, hospitals, even churches are being blown up.
More than 10 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes due to hostilities. Imagine this number. It’s as if the whole of Portugal was forced to flee!
I do not want to call these 10 million Ukrainians refugees. We use the term “displaced persons” to refer to them, these people. We hope that they will all be able to return home when it is safe. But when will it be? And what will be left of their house?
Today, the Russian Defense Minister reported to the Russian leader on the hostilities against our city of Mariupol. You have all heard about Mariupol. Before the war, it was a city comparable in size to Lisbon. It was a half-million seaside city. Now it is completely destroyed. There is not a single undamaged building in Mariupol. Literally scorched city.
For more than a month, the Russian troops have kept Mariupol under siege. Even humanitarian goods were not allowed. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were there without food, without water, without medicine. Under constant shelling, under constant bombing. Russian troops used aircraft to destroy even shelters and they knew for sure that there was no one there but civilians.
Some Mariupol residents managed to escape, and for most of them nothing and no one was left at all. There aren’t even photos of their pre-war life – everything was burned.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians died in the city during Russia’s hostilities against Mariupol. We do not even know the exact number of the dead. And we may not find it out. Because Russian troops brought to the city so-called mobile crematoria – special machines for the destruction of human bodies. The occupiers drew conclusions from how the world reacted to the massacre in Bucha. And now the Russians are trying to hide the traces of war crimes.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
When we turn to the nations of the free world for help, we say simple and clear things. We need weapons to protect ourselves from the brutal Russian invasion, which brought to our people as much evil as the Nazi invasion did 80 years ago.
Leopard tanks, armored personnel carriers, Harpoon anti-ship missiles – you have them and you can help protect the freedom and civilization of Europe with them. Therefore, I appeal to your state to provide us with this assistance.
We need increased pressure of sanctions on Russia, because only sanctions can force Russia to seek peace and deprive the Russian military machine of resources.
We need the principled stance of European companies, so that all of them leave the Russian market, because their taxes, their excise taxes, which they pay to the Russian budget, support this evil.
Why did Russia start the war? The capture of Ukraine is its first step in gaining control of Eastern Europe to destroy democracy in our region.
Ukraine has been and remains the mainstay of democratic processes in our region. The two revolutions of 2004 and 2014, which stopped the dictatorship in Ukraine, in fact defended democracy not only for our nation, but also for all the nations of our region who want to freely choose the future, without any coercion – internal and external.
And your people who will soon celebrate the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, which freed you from the dictatorship, clearly understand our feelings. Exactly understands the feelings of all other nations of our region who seek freedom.
What does Russia bring to Ukraine? Death and dictatorship. And after Ukraine it will try to bring all this to Moldova, Poland, Georgia, the Baltic states, Kazakhstan and all other countries it can reach. Russia can be stopped. Mass killings, deportation and dictatorship can be stopped. Now, in Ukraine.
I am grateful to your government and to all the Portuguese people for the assistance to Ukraine you have already provided.
For supporting sanctions against Russia. And it is important now, when the European Union is preparing the sixth package of sanctions, that you show your leadership and defend the need for an oil embargo against Russia at the European level. It is also important that you, along with other EU countries, insist on a complete restriction of the Russian banking system.
We need to close all EU ports, all Portuguese ports for Russian ships. In particular, for those that they are trying to hide under other countries’ flags.
I am grateful to you for supporting our people, Ukrainian displaced persons. The Ukrainian and Portuguese people know each other well. They understand each other well. And it is important that you use your opportunities, both in Europe and in other macro-regions of the world, to protect the freedom and right to life of our people.
You can tell the truth about this Russian invasion, about this war against the Ukrainian people, both in South America and in Africa. I ask you to fight Russian propaganda and Russian corrupt influence in the countries that are close to you.
And I believe that the people of Portugal, and with them the Portuguese politicians, will support our state in its fundamental desire to be with you in the European Union. The free must support the free. The decent must support the decent. The conscientious must support the conscientious.
And I believe that you will not betray us or yourself. Because Ukraine is already on its way to the European Union under an accelerated procedure. We hope that in the near future we will be able to obtain the status of a candidate for membership in the European Union.
And when the decision is considered, I ask you to support full membership for Ukraine. Because you on the western edge of Europe and we on the eastern edge of Europe have the same values, the same view of what life should be like on our continent.
Freedom, human rights, the rule of law, equality for every man, for every woman and the opportunity to live freely and without any dictatorship, so that everyone always has the time for happiness and for saudade.
Thank you, Portugal!
Glory to Ukraine!