Ukraine president says Russia’s invasion both united his country and strengthened the EU
Sinéad Baker – March 2, 2022
- Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s invasion had united Ukrainians more than anything else in decades.
- “During this time, we have truly become one,” he said.
- He said Russia’s actions have also united the European Union, which Ukraine has applied to join.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s invasion of his country had managed to unite his people and strengthen the European Union.
Zelensky’s comments suggested that Russia’s invasion harmed its own aims of destabilizing the West and weakening Western alliances.
Russia had cited the possibility of Ukraine and other former Soviet satellite states becoming members of NATO as a reason for invading Ukraine, saying it was acting out of self-defense against the bloc’s eastward expansion.
‘We have truly become one’
“During this time we have had more unity than for over 30 years before,” Zelensky said Wednesday.
“At first we were equally scared, then we felt equally painful. And now we do not care. Except for victory. Except for the truth. Except for peace. Except for the tranquility we want to achieve. Except for the lives of our people, for whom we are worried. Except for Ukraine.
“During this time, we have truly become one. We forgave each other a lot. We started loving each other. We help each other. We are worried for each other.”
Russia has met significant resistance from Ukrainians, with Western intelligence concluding that Russia appeared to have been caught off guard and moving slower than it expected.
Zelensky also said the EU had also been united against Russia.
“During this time we have united the European Union already on a new level,” he said. “Higher than formal. Higher than inter-state. At the level of the ordinary people. Millions and millions of Europeans. From the Atlantic Ocean to the suburbs of Kharkiv, where fierce fighting continues.”
He noted the standing ovation he was given after addressing the European Parliament on Tuesday, saying: “When the European parliament stood and applauded us, our struggle, it was an assessment of our efforts. Our unity.”
He later added: “Our diplomats and our friends unite the world for the sake of Ukraine and peace even more.”
The EU has taken unprecedented steps to help Ukraine against Russia, including the introduction of economic sanctions, purchasing and sending weapons, banning Russian planes from flying over its airspace, and supporting Ukrainian refugees.
Ukraine wants EU membership
Zelensky said on Monday that he officially applied to have Ukraine join the EU.
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, had said before Zelensky’s application that the EU wants Ukraine as a member.
“Indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in,” she told Euronews.
It is not clear when Ukraine would be able to join even if all member states agreed to its membership, as the joining process is bureaucratic and can be lengthy.
Zelensky applied directly to the European Parliament on Tuesday, saying: “We have proven our strengths, we have proven that, at a minimum, we are exactly the same as you are. Do prove that you are with us.”