Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am grateful for this opportunity. It is an honor for me to address you today.
You know, to be honest, I have inquiries - a lot of them - from Israel, in particular from journalists. And I very often disagree. And not just me, frankly speaking. I love your country very much, so I will be honest. I reject these inquiries because, to be honest, sometimes I don't know what to say to people.
I have often been to Israel, and it is sometimes difficult for me to respond to such inquiries. Why? I think you will understand me when you hear my address. And I think you will draw your own conclusions. You are smart and independent people.
So, if it wasn’t for the war, I could visit your wonderful university and talk to you directly with pleasure. But since the beginning of the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation on February 24, 2022, I remain in Ukraine, in our capital, in Kyiv. The Office of the President of Ukraine is located in the heart of the city. And if you visit Kyiv, you will definitely come here as well.
Also, I'm sure you will visit some other places in our capital, in our country. If you walk literally 5 minutes down the street from the building where I am now, you will reach the street where the house of Golda Meir’s family was located - one of the most famous, great Israeli women in the world. She was born in Kyiv. I think you know that.
And if you spend some more time and walk the streets next to the one where Mrs. Golda Meir lived, you will see the area that Sholem Aleichem, a prominent Jewish writer, liked so much. You will see the addresses where he lived, the houses next to which he felt cozy, and the museum dedicated to him.
Kyiv, like many other cities and communities in Ukraine, is full of such places. Places of remembrance for both Ukrainian and Jewish nations. Places that connect us - and it's not just historical. It's not just plain facts. It is a space of real life of real people, which has forever united our cultures.
This is the life in which there is one of the founders of the State of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Waldemar Haffkine - one of the most remarkable scientists in human history, who created the first vaccines against plague and cholera. These are the great musician Vladimir Horowitz and the great physicist Abram Joffe. This is Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose mind was so interesting and whose life was so important that his publications are still read today; and this is Natan Sharansky, a politician of the time closer to us, whom we all know well, I personally know him, we all know in both our countries.
Of course, these are places of faith without which it is impossible to imagine your culture. In particular, in our city of Uman, which annually received tens of thousands of Hasidic pilgrims. Or in Medzhybizh, where Baal Shem Tov is buried.
Of course, these are places of sorrow that all mankind must remember and not forget. The Babyn Yar – a symbol of the Holocaust from bullets, the Drobytsky Yar and other such places on the land of then occupied Ukraine, where the Nazis killed innocent people.
We remember all this, we preserve all this. And all this is now under threat. Because how can the places of remembrance be preserved in a total war for the destruction of everything living?
Tomorrow, June 24, it will be four months since Russia has launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. And I am sure that each and every one of you has seen that this is a tragedy, has seen what kind of war it is at all, and how Russia is waging it.
It destroys our cities. It totally burns down everything in the way of the Russian army or devastates the occupied territories. The main Russian weapons are artillery, air bombs, and cruise missiles. The occupiers do not try to think how to fight. Their tactics are very primitive. They use the maximum of bomb and artillery capabilities so that there is simply nowhere to resist.
The Russian army fires missiles at Ukraine every day and every night. The vast majority of them are aimed at ordinary non-military facilities - residential buildings, enterprises, infrastructure, civilians.
As of this morning, 2,709 missiles have already been used against Ukraine. And given the pace of their use, very soon the total number will reach 3,000 missiles. These are not unsophisticated missiles. Yes, there are obsolete, Soviet missiles among them, even those of the 1960s. But there are also modern ones.
However, there is no selectivity in strikes for Russian missiles, bombs and artillery. That is why, for example, the Menorah in the Drobytsky Yar, which stands there in memory of the Holocaust victims, was also damaged by Russian shelling. They even fired at the Menorah!
And should I tell you how many educational facilities the Russian army destroyed in Ukraine? Now you are in one of the wonderful universities, but it is one university - it is very good, but it is one. And imagine 2,000 destroyed educational institutions. How many people are there? Two thousand institutions! Who do you have to be to strike at a university, school or kindergarten with artillery?
Russia has become a terrorist state. That's it.
I'm sure you all know what the Russian army did to our city of Mariupol. In fact, this city no longer exists. And just four months ago, half a million people lived there. Now there are tens of thousands left in the scorched ruins. And they are threatened by infections that are simply impossible to imagine in today's world. In particular, an infection of cholera that Waldemar Haffkine fought against a hundred years ago.
Mariupol is a city where now, week after week, the Russian occupiers are hiding traces of crimes, burying the remains of murdered people in mass graves.
The Russian army did the same to Volnovakha and dozens of other towns and villages in Ukraine.
And what is happening in the territories where the occupiers managed to enter quickly? Civilians are executed there, refugees are killed on the roads. People are tortured there. People are raped there, including minors - both girls and boys. The Russian troops have set up "filtration camps" in which people are tormented. Thousands were killed or mutilated in such camps. The occupiers carry out deportation of Ukrainians to Russia, scattering them in remote regions. And only a few manage to return to Ukraine through the territory of third countries.
The number of forcibly displaced persons in our country in just four months is more than 12 million people. 12 million people!
Nowhere in Europe in 77 years since World War II has there been anything similar to what Russia has done.
Well, tell me how is it possible not to help the victim of such aggression? I ask you this question because I know that you do care, as well as millions, tens, hundreds of millions of people on our planet.
So, I will return to where I started my address, to why I rarely, really rarely communicate with journalists when there are inquiries from Israel. I think you will understand. It's difficult for me. I do not know what to say to these distinguished persons. I do not know how to answer the questions I often hear. The questions: what help did Israel provide? And how else can we help? All journalists from all countries ask such questions. I just don't know what to say.
Of course, I am grateful to the people of Israel, I am grateful to you for the sincere and emotional support for Ukrainians. I am grateful for all the Ukrainian flags that appeared on your streets - we see it all, we appreciate it all. For all the words that sounded in our support in your society. I am grateful to your great people. But we would like to get support from your government. It seems fair to me.
For example, the geographically small state of Luxembourg, with a population of around 600,000, has provided us with defense support in the amount of 15% of its defense budget.
The Baltic states - small, neighboring states - provided significant help when they sent us the necessary weapons. Maybe it was not much, but they gave us almost everything since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
What about Israel? We understand that it is not easy for you, but we would very much like to write down in that column in front of your state in the tables about the assistance to our army - what we received. We would like to write something down there.
We can also look at Poland. This state - like, by the way, the Baltic states - is under direct Russian military threat. It provides us with vital logistical assistance, it sheltered two and a half million Ukrainian migrants fleeing the war.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark and many, many other countries shelter our people...
Democratic countries - everyone did their best to shelter Ukrainian families - we are grateful to them. Most are women with children. They were fleeing the war, seeking refuge.
Ireland, with which our culture has no such deep ties as with the culture of Israel, the people of Israel, the history of Israel, has even abolished the visa regime for Ukrainians so that they can simply come and save their lives and their children. Japan, Canada - they made it easier for us to enter.
And the Israeli government has suspended the visa-free regime. This is happening right now. I do not want to judge that, I have no right. I have absolutely no right. This is the choice of each and every state. I just want you to think about it yourself.
As for sanctions. When countries around the world impose sanctions on Russia, it's not about money, it's not about business. It's about values. It's about general security. It is about the fact that anyone who wants to destroy another nation must be held accountable.
Japan - supported, Australia, the United States - many countries and many European states are working together - with us against Russian aggression. And, unfortunately, we have not yet seen Israel join the sanctions regime.
However, I would like to thank you for the medications you sent to our country. Unfortunately, I have nothing to say about most of the items of the necessary assistance from Israel to Ukraine.
Of course, we have such a situation with several states. It's true. But I can't tell them what I'm telling you. Why? Please remember our ties! How close we are. And how we should understand each other. And how we feel that your society understands these needs.
I do not know why there is such a situation and misunderstanding with some government officials. That is why I have decided to tell you this today - I am not indifferent to the future relations between our states and nations. That's why I'm telling you this openly - face to face.
I am sure that the war will end. We will win this war. And we have a common future. The great future of great nations, because we have such a great history, a great past.
We will have to look each other in the eyes for many, many years to come. Especially your generation, because students are the future and it's wonderful. That's why I composed my address this way. So that you can draw conclusions and so that we can hear each other.
With great respect for the history of Israel, for the people of Israel, for all of you.
Glory to Ukraine!