Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed NATO leaders virtually Thursday as they gathered for an emergency summit on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Zelensky stopped short of issuing his usual request for a no-fly zone, but he asked NATO to supply his country with military equipment. Below is a transcript of the English translation of Zelensky’s speech as delivered.
Secretary General, all the presidents, I welcome you from Kyiv, our capital that has been fighting for a month just like our entire nation.
Yes, it is true we are not members of the alliance, not part of the most powerful defensive alliance in the world, not one of those nations that are subject to Article 5 and entitled to defense. But we have a feeling that we are in a gray zone between the West and Russia, and yet we are defending all our shared values. And we are defending these values for a month now – a month of heroic resistance, a month of the darkest suffering and destruction of the global security with impunity. The world has seen it.
Russia has accumulated tremendous military resources, men, air bombs, missiles. They have invested huge money in death, while the world was investing into life. But Ukraine is holding on at the cost of lives, destroyed cities and tens of millions of displaced persons – many of them are in your territories, in the countries of NATO. I’m grateful for their support. And people, unfortunately, continue leaving their homes, seeking refugee from the terror the occupiers have brought.
From the first hours of invasion, we’ve had brutal missile strikes. Russia has used almost a thousand, over a thousand different missiles, hundreds of air strikes. And I, on the 24th of February, I came to you with a very logical request: Please help us with a no-fly zone in any way. Close our skies in any format. Protect our citizens from Russian bombs and missiles. We did not hear a clear answer. Ukraine does not have a powerful anti-missile defense. Russia has more powerful aviation and therefore they have an advantage of using mass destruction weapons. And you see the consequences, how many people have been killed, how many peaceful cities have been destroyed.
Ukraine has been withstanding in unequal conditions. And I have been repeating the same thing. To save people and cities in Ukraine, we need unlimited military support. Just as Russia is unlimited in using its entire arsenal against us, destroying everything that lives, from civilian infrastructure to universities to churches, bridges and hospitals and food warehouses. We ask for planes so that we don’t lose so many people. You have these planes, but we have not received a single one. We ask for tanks so that we could unblock our cities that are dying now – Mariupol, Berdyansk, Melitopol – where Russia is holding hostage thousands of people and creating an artificial famine. There is no water, no food there.
You have at least 20,000 tanks. Ukraine asks for 1 percent, 1 percent of all your tanks. Please give them to us or sell them to us. But we, so far, have not heard a clear response. This is the worst thing about war. We’re not to have a clear answer from the West to requests for help. Ukraine never wanted this war and does not want to fight it for years. We just want to save our people, to survive, just to survive. As any nation, we have the right, I believe, the right to life. The right to this 1 percent. And I am not blaming NATO. I want to be clear. You are not to blame. These are not your missiles, not your bombs that are destroying us.
Today, since morning, we have seen phosphorus bombs, phosphorus Russian bombs, killing adults and children again. I want you to know the alliance can yet stop Ukrainian deaths of Russian strikes, Russian occupation, by providing us all with all the weapons we need. Yes, we are not members of the alliance and I am not making demands. But Ukrainians have never thought that the alliance and the countries of the alliance are different things. That in matters of life and death, you can be a power, apart and not together, that NATO can be afraid of Russia’s actions.
I’m sure you understand now that Russia isn’t going to stop at Ukraine. It will not. It will go further against the Eastern members of NATO – the Baltic states and Poland, definitely. Will NATO stop worrying how Russia will respond? Are you sure that Article 5 can work? Because for us, the Budapest Memorandum did not work. The Budapest Memorandum did not work for peace in Ukraine. And I will be honest with you even today. Budapest is not working for peace in Ukraine.
Yes, we are receiving support from some members of the alliance. And I am very grateful. All Ukrainians are very grateful for this sincerely – to all of you who are giving us what you have to support us. But what about the alliance? The Article 5 issue is fundamental. I want you to know that we are thinking about it. And I sincerely hope that we are wrong in our assessment and in our doubts. And I hope that you indeed are a powerful alliance. Because if we are wrong, then the world is safe. But if we are not mistaken, at least by 1 percent, I want you to – I ask you to review your assessment, and review your approach, and look after security in Europe and in the world.
You can give us 1 percent of all your planes, 1 percent of all your tanks, 1 percent. We cannot buy it. These supplies depend on NATO’s political decisions. Multiple rocket launch systems, anti-warship systems, air defense systems, can we fight this war without it? So when we finally have it, it will give us and you 100% security. And we need only one. The only thing I ask of you after this one month of war, is to ask you on behalf of our military, after this one month war with Russia, in the war with Russia, please do not tell us that our army is not up to NATO’s standards.
We have shown what our standards are worth, how much we can give to the overall security of Europe and the world, how much we can do to protect ourselves – protect everyone from aggression, to protect our shared values. But NATO has yet to show what NATO can do to save people’s lives and to show that they are indeed the most powerful defensive alliance in the world. The world is waiting. Ukraine is waiting for real action, real security guarantees from those whose word is to be trusted and whose actions can really preserve peace.
Our proposals is on the table, our requirements are on the table. We need peace now. The response is yours. I’m grateful to those who helped us. Glory to Ukraine. Thank you.