President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke online at the regular meeting of the European Council, which is taking place in Brussels. The Head of State made an online call from the train of JSC "Ukrzaliznytsia" during a working trip to the regions of Ukraine.
“I'm glad to greet you today as I always do, but in a slightly different format. Now I'm visiting the cities that Russia is trying to ruin. The cities of Donbas, our Kharkiv – one of the centers of the east of Europe, our Kherson – already liberated from Russian occupation, but suffering from Russian terrorist strikes,” the President noted.
He emphasized that he is on the road, as he uses every opportunity to support the morale of Ukrainians and bring closer the time of expulsion from our country of the Russian terrorists, who dream of spreading their evil, including to other European cities.
“God forbid anyone in the world should see their cities empty because of the threat of terrorist attacks, such as Kramatorsk or dozens of other cities of Donbas. With destroyed houses – destroyed by Russian artillery. Houses with plywood instead of glass in the windows where people are still trying to live. Ruined villages, destroyed by shelling as in our Kherson region and in every place where Russian occupiers can reach. Desolate – because full of mines – fields… God forbid anyone should see it happen in his or her own country,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President emphasized that if there are no delays or stagnation in Ukraine-Europe cooperation, if joint efforts are resolutely focused on Ukraine's victory, the victory will be gained already this year.
“The faster we act together – the more lives we save,” he emphasized.
The Head of State noted close cooperation in the defense and energy spheres, economic interaction, ten approved sanctions packages of the European Union against Russia, assistance to international justice in bringing Russian war criminals to justice. Separately, the President thanked those who participate in the initiative proposed by Estonia regarding the supply and production of shells for Ukrainian artillery, who support the work of the International Criminal Court and Ukraine's efforts to establish a Special Tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine, as well as efforts to launch a Compensation Mechanism.
“All of this is the evidence that Europe knows how to defend its values and has the courage to stand up to terror,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed.
At the same time, the President named five key threats that move Ukraine and Europe further away from achieving peace and ending the war.
In particular, this is the delay in supplying the Ukrainian army with long-range missiles and modern aircraft, the delay in the adoption of new tough sanctions packages, the delay in the implementation of the Ukrainian Peace Formula and the organization of the "peace summit", the delay in Ukraine's integration into the European Union.
“We could organize the Summit in one of the world's capitals – in one of the European capitals. Wouldn't this add to Europe's global strength? It surely will,” the Head of State noted.
In the context of Ukraine's European integration prospects, Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that even despite Russian aggression, our state continues to develop institutions according to European standards.
“The results are obvious. We have withstood the war. Our institutions are functioning – despite everything. Financial system, banks, all public services, social sphere. It is critical that there is no protraction in bringing closer Ukraine and the European Union. This is important both for the protection of Ukraine and for the protection of the European system. This is in line with the objective need to constantly strengthen Europe, as only such constant strengthening guarantees true resilience,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
He stated that Ukraine is ready for a decision on the start of negotiations on membership in the European Union already this year.
The President emphasized that war teaches leaders that honesty in relations between allies guarantees victory.
“I have honestly pointed out five key threats – five reasons protracting this war and pushing peace further away. We have to do everything we can to avoid such protraction. And definitely – we can do it. Europe knows how to be decisive. I know that you can appreciate the value of time. Let each meeting, each discussion, each day of our work together bring the return of peace closer – bring closer the liberation of our land and all of Europe from Russian evil. If Europe hesitates, evil may have time to regroup and prepare itself for years of war. It is in your power not to allow this to happen. Together, we can liberate Ukraine from Russian aggression already this year,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized.
The regular meeting of the European Council takes place on March 23-24 in Brussels. It is attended by heads of state and government of EU member states. The meeting of the European Council is devoted to the discussion of recent events given the aggressive war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the further support of our country by the EU.