President of Ukraine

Aid to Ukraine today is not just a matter of equipment, it is protection against terror - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the 104th Congress of Mayors and Heads of Municipalities of France

22 November 2022 - 18:50

Aid to Ukraine today is not just a matter of equipment, it is protection against terror - address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the 104th Congress of Mayors and Heads of Municipalities of France

Dear friends!

It is an honor for me to address the Congress of Mayors, which unites now and always many leaders of French society. I know that I will be heard by senators and deputies of the French parliament, government ministers, prefects, heads of cities and municipalities, the President of the French Republic.

You represent millions of French citizens, and I want to explain today what is most important now for millions of Ukrainians.

I will be as specific as possible.

The Russian war hit the entire territory of Ukraine, but the occupiers temporarily managed to seize part of the territory of ten of our regions.

What are the 10 regions of Ukraine? These are more than 11,000 settlements. Of these 11 thousand, just imagine, the total number of cities and villages of Ukraine that came under occupation is more than three thousand seven hundred.

These are big cities and small towns. Both ancient powerful settlements and villages with only a few houses.

It was a very different life. But now we see one thing in all these settlements - a complete lack of any opportunities to live normally and freely.

We managed to liberate more than 1,800 settlements from the Russian occupation. And the consequences of the occupation are very similar everywhere.

The Russian soldiers mined everything they managed to mine. The occupiers looted everything they managed to loot. In general, hundreds of thousands of buildings were destroyed or damaged by shelling across Ukraine. Thousands of social objects. The occupiers leave behind a completely destroyed infrastructure...

Imagine what it is like - people under the occupation have lived without communication, electricity, normal water supply for six months.

I will give an example of one city - Kherson.

This is a city in the south of Ukraine. Regional center, port.

Kherson, like the entire region, has become a new home for many residents of Crimea who left the peninsula after its capture by Russia in 2014.

The Russian army occupied Kherson in the spring of this year. On November 11, the liberation of the city began.

What did we see in it?

Of the three hundred thousand citizens who lived in Kherson before, about one hundred thousand remained in the city.

They had nothing.

There was no electricity or communication. There was no water. Only after our return did pharmacies start working in the city. We are resuming the work of the medical sphere, the provision of social services.

The Russian military did not just rob people, taking away everything valuable...

They broke or destroyed all equipment that could work to restore communication and supplies for people, for example, heat in the winter.

They mined administrative buildings, and some of them simply have to be blown up, because it is impossible to demine them without risking the lives of sappers.

Kherson has always been a peaceful and tranquil southern city. Now we will have to spend years to heal its wounds after the Russian occupation.

And in general, there are still about two thousand towns and villages that we still have to liberate and restore. At least dozens of them were completely destroyed by the strikes of the Russian army - like Mariupol or Volnovakha.

Dear friends!

When Ukraine asks for help in this war, it is not just about the clash of states - it is not just about the fact that Russia has come to take our land and our resources, which it wants to appropriate.

This is a clash of two opposite attitudes towards people and towards life.

When Russia comes to a city, nothing is left of normal life there. 

Russia brings repression and abuse, takes not just property from people... There are thousands of examples, in particular, of how the Russian military simply destroyed residential buildings or cars on the roads.

There are thousands of proofs that mining and destroying energy, medical, educational and other infrastructure in Ukraine is a deliberate Russian policy.

They want Ukrainians to simply not be able to live on this land.

When the Ukrainian flag returns to the liberated territory, we do everything so that normal life returns with it. The same life you are used to in your cities.

That is why Ukraine is so grateful to everyone who supports us - our defense, finances, reconstruction. 

It is literally a life saving aid.

Now, on the eve of winter, we are facing one of the greatest threats since the beginning of all-out war. Russian missile terror destroyed almost half of our energy infrastructure. And we know that the Kremlin has set the task of continuing the attacks on energy facilities. To turn the cold of winter into a weapon of mass destruction.

With this, Russia wants to do to the entire territory of Ukraine what it is doing to the occupied cities and villages. It wants to destroy life.

Of course, we oppose that.

Just yesterday, I spoke with President Emmanuel Macron about what we can do together to defend against these Russian tactics.

We have clear agreements.

In particular, about holding in early December a conference on the rapid reconstruction of Ukraine already now - in accordance with our Plan for the rapid recovery of Ukraine. And I invite all of you to join the Conference and related efforts.

I invite you to also contact the Embassy of Ukraine in France to find out what other options of help exist.

In order to get through this winter and not allow Russia to turn the cold into a tool of terror and subjugation, we need many things - from generators of various capacities to Starlinks.

For us, this is not just a matter of equipment. For Ukraine, this is protection against terror.

Just like help with demining or equipment for firefighters and rescuers, for our doctors, which is already provided at the level of French cities and municipalities, the provision of generators and specific communication systems is an absolutely clear protection of people.

I urge you to be very specific as well! Specific in help. And to support the protection of our cities and communities against terror. Together we can definitely do it.

I thank you for your attention!

Thank you for your support!

Glory to Ukraine!