In a call-to-action message shared with Global Citizen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged people around the world to show and lend support to the people of Ukraine amid the ongoing war with Russia.
Zelenskyy described the awful toll of the conflict on people in Ukraine and called for governments to provide military aid so that the Ukrainian army would be able to repel Russia’s invasion. He saved his strongest words for ordinary citizens who have the power, he said, to turn the tide of the conflict.
“We know that regular people around the world can hear us, can understand us better than any politician,” Zelenskyy said. “Politicians always follow people, so please speak up, I beg you to speak about Ukraine, go to the main squares of your cities. Support us, show your strong position, show your support to Ukraine.”
He added: “We all are people of this world. We should be together, we should be strong, and show solidarity.”
Ukraine has been calling on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to “close the skies,” or create a “no-fly zone” over the country, but heads of states have so far declined, because that would entail shooting down Russian planes and escalating the conflict into a global war. In his message, Zelenskyy called instead for additional military equipment and supplies so that Ukraine itself would be able to impose the “no-fly zone.”
Stopping Russia’s fighter jets is paramount, according to Zelenskyy, because they have caused the most damage, with aerial bombardments destroying infrastructure, reducing whole city blocks to rubble, and killing countless people.
“If Western politicians are scared, we are saying: Let us do it,” he said. “Give us, the Ukrainians, warplanes and fighter jets, which we can use to protect ourselves, our children, our friends, our parents, our cities, our memory, our architecture. Give Ukraine anti-missile defense to guarantee that no one will blast [a] nuclear power plant and Ukraine and all of Europe won’t be destroyed. What else [is there] to think about?”
Zelenskyy warned that the rest of the world is at risk as long as the Russian invasion continues.
Efforts are being made to halt the conflict. The United Nations, with support from governments and organizations around the world, is providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine and working around the clock to secure a ceasefire and achieve peace.
But in the course of a little over a week, the Russian invasion has caused catastrophic harm.
While exact figures are still hard to discern, it’s estimated that hundreds of civilians and thousands of soldiers have died and more have been wounded since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24. More than 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with additional people internally displaced within the country.
Apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals have been bombed. Vital infrastructure such as energy centers, metro stations, and water systems have been damaged and even destroyed. As a result, people in Ukraine have lost access to shelter, health services, food, water, education, and other basic needs, putting them at risk of extreme poverty.
The Ukrainian military has mounted a determined resistance against Russian forces to protect towns and cities and repel the invasion. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have taken up arms to protect their homes. Zelenskyy, himself, has set an inspiring example by joining the front lines, vowing to stay in Ukraine until the very end.
But the world must stand together to demand the only just outcome: the immediate withdrawal of the Russian army from Ukraine. Take action with us now to support the people impacted by the invasion of Ukraine, rally for lifesaving aid, and call for peace.
Read the full transcript of Zelenskyy's call to action below:
You all know what terrorism is: taking hostages, blasting airplanes.
But now you see something even more horrible — it is not individual, not a one-man terror, not some marginal terrorist organization. You see the state, the terrorist state, the state which planned to destroy cities of Ukraine with cruise missiles, aero bombs, artillery; the state which allows itself striking nuclear power plants with tanks.
No other terrorist has done that before. The world should react decisively and most importantly — fast.
The world has to stop the government of Russia, stop Russia, has to stop shelling, everyday bombing.
If western politicians are scared, we are saying: let us do it.
Give us, the Ukrainians, warplanes and fighter jets, which we can use to protect ourselves, our children, our friends, our parents, our cities, our memory, our architecture.
Give Ukraine anti-missile defense to guarantee that no one will blast nuclear power plant and Ukraine and all of Europe won’t be destroyed.
What else to think about?
Imagine yourself, an ordinary hospital for example in Paris. I don’t wish for this but imagine for a second. Either a school in Chicago, or a residential area in the center of Berlin.
What would you do if terrorists destroyed them completely with missiles, with air raids, with bombshells, as it is happening here in Ukraine, in our Kharkiv, in our Chernihiv, in our Mariupol, in Odesa, you all know the city of Odesa? And other cities!
This happens in Ukraine every day, every single day.
Thousands of peaceful civilian objects destroyed. We know that regular people around the world can hear us, can understand us better than any politician.
Politicians always follow people so please speak up, I beg you to speak about Ukraine, go to the main squares of your cities.
Support us, show your strong position, show your support to Ukraine.
It’s impossible to bear it when terrorists kill. It’s impossible to make concessions all the time, they are terrorists!
It’s important to help the victims of terror. It’s important to help oneself. Because a terror doesn’t recognize borders. Borders don’t exist for terrorists. Terror always seeks new victims.
We all are people of this world. We should be together, we should be strong, and show solidarity.
Always, and especially now, humanity should make demands to the terrorists, and not the other way around.
Ukraine should have a right to defend itself. Protect our own life with your help.
Close the Ukrainian sky. Or help us close it by ourselves with your warplanes which you have but keep on the ground.
For us your help will be a survival, a salvation in the sky. So that life remains on our ground. Together we should choose life.
And we should do it now.