Zelensky Receives Standing Ovation From EU Parliament in Emotional Scenes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a lengthy standing ovation before and after delivering an impassioned speech to the European Parliament.

Zelensky urged the European Union during an emergency session of the EU Parliament to "prove that you are with us" as Russia continues its assault against Ukraine.

It came a day after Zelensky officially asked the EU to "urgently admit Ukraine" to the bloc.

In his speech, delivered via video link, Zelensky said Ukraine is "fighting to be equal members of Europe"

He opened his address by saying he was pleased to see the display of unity after lawmakers, many wearing #standwithUkraine T-shirts with the Ukrainian flag, gave him a standing ovation.

I am "extremely happy with what I have seen here and I am happy that we have united all of you, but I didn't want this unity at this price," he said. "Thousands of people killed, two revolutions, one war, and five days of full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation."

Speaking in Ukrainian that was translated into English by an interpreter who became emotional at times, Zelensky said Ukrainians are "fighting for our freedom, for our rights and for our survival."

He went on to say that multiple missiles had struck Freedom Square in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city with a population of about 1.5 million.

Members of the European Parliament applaud Zelensky
Members of the European Parliament applaud Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he speaks during a special plenary session focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on March 1, 2022. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

"At least two cruise missiles have hit the main square of that city. That is the price of freedom," he said. "We're fighting just for our land and for our freedom."

Zelensky added: "Every square in our country will be called Freedom Square. Nobody will break us, we are strong, we are Ukrainians."

He also again condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin, and what he called Russia's false claim that civilian infrastructure and residential areas were not being targeted.

"Yesterday, 16 children were killed," Zelensky said. "Again and again, President Putin is going to say that is some kind of operation."

He ended his speech by calling on the EU to welcome Ukraine into its ranks.

"We are fighting for our freedom, for our rights and for our survival," he said. "But we are also fighting also to be equal members of Europe.... the European Union is going to be much stronger with us, that's for sure.

Ursula von der Leyen applauds Volodymyr Zelensky
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (C) applauds Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) who appears on a screen as he speaks in a video conference during a special plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels, on March 1, 2022. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images
European Parliament members give a standing ovation
European Parliament members give a standing ovation after a speech of Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, during a plenary session in Brussels, Tuesday March 1, 2022. Jonas Roosens/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images

"Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans, and then life will conquer death, and light will win over darkness. Glory be to Ukraine."

"We welcome Mr. President, Ukraine's application for candidate status, and we will work towards that goal because we will and we must face the future together," Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, said during Tuesday's session.

But Ukraine will be aware that the membership process will be lengthy.

Charles Michel, the chairman of EU leaders, told the European Parliament after Zelensky's speech that the bloc would have to seriously look at Ukraine's "legitimate" request to join.

"It is going to be difficult, we know there are different views in Europe," he added.

Update 3/01/22, 6:30 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.