OTTAWA — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an address to Canadian parliamentarians in the House of Commons on Tuesday, where he appeared through a video link.
Here is a full transcript of his speech, as translated into English from the original Ukrainian by a parliamentary interpreter:
"Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Speaker, Prime Minister — dear Justin — members of the government, members of Parliament, all distinguished guests, friends, before I begin, I would like you to understand my feelings and the feelings of all Ukrainians, as far as it is possible, our feelings over the last 20 days — 20 days of the full-scale aggression (by the) Russian Federation after eight years of fighting in Donbass region.
"Can you only imagine? Imagine that at 4 a.m., each of you, you start hearing bomb explosions, severe explosions. Justin, can you imagine hearing — you, your children — hearing all these severe explosions? Bombing (the) airport, bombing the Ottawa airport, tens of other cities in your wonderful country? Can you imagine that?
"Cruise missiles are falling down on your territory and your children are asking you what is happening. You are receiving the first news (as to) which infrastructure objects have been bombed and destroyed by the Russian Federation and you know how many people already died. Can you only imagine? What words? How can you explain to your children that a full-scale aggression just happened in your country? You know that this is a war to annihilate your state, your country. You know that this is the war to subjugate your people.
"And on the second day you receive notifications that huge columns of military equipment are entering your country, crossing the border. They are entering small cities. They are (laying) siege, encircling cities and they start to shell civilian neighbourhoods. They bomb school buildings. They destroyed kindergarten facilities, like in our city, in the city of Sumy, like in the city of Okhtyrka. Imagine that someone is laying siege to Vancouver. Can you just imagine that for a second and all these people who are left in such a city? And this is exactly the situation that our city of Mariupol is suffering right now. They are left without heat or hydro, or without a means of communicating, almost without food, without water, seeking shelter in bomb shelters.
"Dear Justin, dear guests, can you imagine that every day you receive memorandums about the number of casualties, including women and children? You have heard about the bombings. Currently, we have 97 children that died during this war. Can you imagine if the famous CN Tower in Toronto was hit by Russian bombs?
"Of course, I don’t wish this on anyone, but this is our reality in which we live. We have to contemplate, we have to see where the next bombing takes place. In your church's square? We have a Freedom Square in the city of Kharkiv, our Babi Yar, the place where victims of the Holocaust were buried, and it has been bombed by the Russians.
"Imagine that Canadian facilities have been bombed similarly as our buildings and memorial places are being bombed. A number of families have died. Every night is a horrible night. The Russians are shelling from all kinds of artillery, from tanks. They are hitting civilian infrastructure. They hit big buildings.
"Can you imagine that there is a fire starting at a nuclear power plant and that is exactly what happened in our country. Each city that they are marching through, they are taking down the Ukrainian flags. Can you imagine someone taking down your Canadian flags in Montreal and other Canadian cities? I know that you all support Ukraine. We’ve been friends with you, Justin, but also I would like you to understand and I would like you to feel this, what we feel every day. We want to live and we want to be victorious. We want to prevail for the sake of life.
"Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friendly nations, and you ask ‘Please close the sky. Please close the airspace. Please stop the bombing? How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this happen?' And they, in return, express their deep concerns about the situation. When we talk with our partners they say ‘Please hold on. Hold on a little longer.’
"Some people are talking about trying to avoid escalation and at the same time in response to our aspiration to become members of NATO, we also do not hear a clear answer. Sometimes we don’t see obvious things. It is dire straits, but it also allowed us to see who our real friends are over the last 20 days and as well in the eight previous years.
"I am sure that you’ve been able to see clearly what is going on and I am addressing all of you. Canada has always been steadfast in their support. You have been a reliable partner to Ukraine and Ukrainians and I am sure this will continue. You have offered your help, your assistance, at our earliest request. You supply us with the military assistance, with humanitarian assistance. You imposed severe sanctions. At the same time, we see that unfortunately they did not bring the end to the war. You can see that our cities like Kharkiv, Mariupol and many other cities are not protected just like your cities are protected — Edmonton, Vancouver. You can see that Kyiv is being shelled and bombed.
"It used to be a very peaceful country, peaceful cities, but now they are being constantly bombarded. Basically, what I am trying to say is that you all need to do more to stop Russia, to protect Ukraine, and by doing that to protect Europe from Russian threats. They are destroying everything: memorial complexes, schools, hospitals, housing complexes. They already killed 97 Ukrainian children.
"We are not asking for much. We are asking for justice, for real support, which will help us to prevail to defend, to save lives, to save life all over the world. Canada is leading in these efforts and I am hoping that other countries will follow the same suit. We are asking for more of your leadership and please take a greater part in these efforts, Justin, and all of our friends of Ukraine. Old friends owe the truth. Please understand how important it is for us to close our airspace from Russian missiles and Russian aircraft. I hope you can understand. I hope you can increase your efforts, that you can increase sanctions so they will not have a single dollar to fund their war effort. Commercial entities should not be working in Russia.
"Probably you know better than many in any other countries that this attack on Ukraine is their attempt to annihilate the Ukrainian people, and there nothing else to it. This is their main objective. It’s actually a war against Ukrainian people, and it’s an attempt to destroy everything that we, as Ukrainians, do. It’s an attempt to destroy our future, to destroy our nation, our character.
"You Canadians, you know all this very well, and that is why I am asking you, please, do not stop your efforts. Please expand your efforts to bring back peace in our peaceful country. I believe and I know that you can do it. We are part of the antiwar coalition and, jointly, I am sure that it will achieve results.
"I would like to also ask our Ukrainian diaspora in Canada: This is a historical moment, and we need your support, your practical support. We hope that with your practical steps, you will show that you are more than part of Ukrainian history. Please remember, this is a practical, modern-day history of Ukraine. We want to live. We want to have peace.
"I am grateful to every one of you in the Parliament of Canada who is present there and to every Canadian citizen. I am very grateful to you, Justin. I am grateful to the Canadian people, and I am confident that, together, we will overcome and we will be victorious.
"Glory to Ukraine. Thank you to Canada."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2022.
The Canadian Press