Zelenskyy addresses Dutch parliament in historic speech: "You can help us win"
On Thursday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) via a live video feed, calling on the Netherlands to tighten sanctions against Russia and increase support for Ukraine through the provision of weapons. “Tyranny must always lose," Zelenskyy said. "I hope you can help us win.”
Ukrainian President referenced MH17 and bombing of Rotterdam
Over the last several weeks, Zelenskyy has addressed 13 national parliaments and governments around the world, including US Congress and the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. This week, it was the turn of the Dutch government. It marked the first time in history that the Tweede Kamer invited a foreign leader to address MPs.
In a 15-minute speech, the Ukrainian President gave details about the current situation in Ukraine, emphasising that the country would continue to defend itself while acknowledging that after just one month of war, international interest in the conflict was already waning. “The war in Ukraine is sadly becoming a routine," he said.
Zelenskyy compared Russia's attack on Ukraine to the beginning of the Second World War, referencing the bombing of Rotterdam during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. "World War Two started as an invasion of only a few countries," Zelenskyy said. "But it didn't take long before bombs were also falling on Rotterdam and London."
As was expected, the Ukrainian President also mentioned flight MH17, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine seven years ago: "We have to do something now to stop this. In 2014, Russia entered our country. You felt that when MH17 was shot down. There is no doubt: this is not a just war. Those who gave the order must be tried."
Calls for the Netherlands to tighten sanctions and increase support
While Zelenskyy took time to thank the government and the people of the Netherlands for their support thus far, he emphasised that more action must be taken as soon as possible in order to put an end to Russia's "tyranny."
“Russia continues to attack Ukraine, we have to do something to protect our country. We have to stop this so there will never again be war in Europe,” the President said. “Tougher sanctions are needed so that Russia doesn’t have the chance to extend this war in Europe.”
Zelenskyy called on the Netherlands to enforce tougher sanctions against Russia, stop all business with the country and prepare to move away from using energy from Russia. The President also made it clear that more weapons were needed in order for Ukraine to continue its fight against Russia. “Ukraine thanks you for the support…but we need more," Zelenskyy said. "We need weapons to free our cities…you have that, and I hope you can help us win.”
Finally, Zelenskyy said the Netherlands also had an important role to play in helping Ukraine rebuild, and explicitly called on Prime Minister Mark Rutte to use his influence over international institutions and help Ukraine claim a spot in the European Union: "Our EU membership is up to you."
Thumb: Alexandros Michailidis via Shutterstock.