‘You were too late’: Zelensky slams Europe for being slow on imposing sanctions and says Putin would NEVER have invaded if leaders had acted sooner
- Ukraine President made comments during address to European Council summit
- He thanked Europe for imposing sanctions on Russia but said they came too late
- He said a gas crisis could have been averted if Nord Stream was blocked earlier
- And he called on neighbouring countries to approve Ukraine’s request to join EU
Volodymyr Zelensky has scolded Europe for being too ‘late’ imposing sanctions on Russia and says Vladimir Putin would ‘never’ have invaded if measures had been ‘preventative’.
The Ukrainian President made the comments during a late-night address to the European Council summit in Brussels in which he outlined the destruction Russia has caused his country.
He thanked Europe for imposing sanctions on Russia but said they were too late to stop Putin’s troops invading Ukraine.
‘You have imposed sanctions and we are grateful. These are strong steps,’ he said.
‘But it was a little late, because if it had been preventative, Russia would never have started a war.’
Volodymyr Zelensky scolded Europe for being too ‘late’ imposing sanctions on Russia and said Vladimir Putin would ‘never’ have invaded if measures had been ‘preventative’
He made the comments during a late-night address to the European Council summit in Brussels in which he outlined the destruction Russia had caused his country
The Ukraine leader said Russia ‘would not have created a gas crisis’ in Europe if the Nord Stream 2 gas line, which runs from Russia to Germany, had been blocked earlier.
Germany eventually halted certification of the $10 billion natural gas pipeline after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz long resisted including it as a possible sanction if Russia invaded Ukraine.
Zelensky also called on neighbouring nations to approve Ukraine’s request to join the European Union, adding: ‘Here I am, asking you not to be late. Please.’
The leader’s address came exactly a month after Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
Zelensky said: ‘It all started on February 24. From Russia. When the missiles flew early in the morning against our peaceful cities. People had still been sleeping when death had already come.
‘Russia sent armoured vehicles against us, brought several thousand tanks to Ukraine. It’s hard to count how many of them have already been burned, how many can still kill us.’
He added: ‘Bombs fell on our people from planes that took off from Belarus and they didn’t even admit that they did it. Russia captured the Chernobyl NPP and staff there have not been released for 24 days. Imagine, people lived 24 days at such a facility. These are our people.
‘Russian tanks fired at the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant. Russia fired missiles at Babyn Yar. It has already destroyed more than 230 schools and 155 kindergartens, and killed 128 children.’
He said Russian troops have fired missiles at universities and used rocket artillery to burn residential neighbourhoods, cities and villages, reducing them to ‘ash’.
He also said the Russian military have killed journalists despite seeing the word ‘press’ written on their uniforms.
Referring to Mariupol, a strategic city heavily besieged by Russian forces, Zelensky said: ‘This is a blockade that nobody could have imagined in our time. Hundreds of thousands of people without water, without food, under constant shelling, under constant bombing.
‘The Russian militaries deliberately blow up hospitals, maternity hospitals, shelters, knowing for sure that people are hiding there.’
Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks are seen, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the Sumy region, Ukraine, March 7, 2022
Pictured: The site of a rocket explosion where a shopping mall used to be on March 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The rocket hit the shopping mall on March 20, 2022
Refugees from conflict zones in the east of the Country wait in front of the Dnipro station to be able to access the train in order to leave for the west in Dnipro, Ukraine on March 24, 2022
He also referred to the killing of 96-year-old Borys Romanchenko, a man who survived four Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War, but was killed when a Russian projectile flew into his apartment in Kharviv.
‘Russian troops are using phosphorous bombs, rape women, loot houses, destroy churches – all churches, even those of the Moscow Patriarchate’, he added.
‘They have abducted more than 2,000 children from Ukraine. We don’t know where our 2,000 children are.
‘They fire at humanitarian convoys and don’t care who’s there – children, women, church representatives who accompany the humanitarian cargo.’
He said Ukraine ‘never dreamed of war’ and was urging ‘strangers’ to lay down their weapons and return home.
Zelensky also addressed a Nato summit via video-link on Thursday and pleaded for ‘1% of all your planes, 1% of all your tanks’.
Boris Johnson said Britain wanted to help, but conceded there were ‘logistical problems’ involved and called on Ukraine’s more eastern allies to provide armoured vehicles to the country.
France’s Emmanuel Macron took issue with Mr Johnson’s suggestion, ruling out supplying Ukraine with tanks and planes over fears such an action would drag NATO into conflict with Russia. The issue was a ‘red line’, the French president said.
Putin last month ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, and threatened NATO allies with ‘consequences greater than any you have faced in history’ should they directly intervene in Ukraine.
Pictured: Maps showing the latest situation on the ground in Ukraine and Kyiv
Zelensky has made a number of speeches to parliaments around the world since Russia invaded his country. Earlier this week he told Italian MPs to freeze all assets belonging to the Russian elite and to declare a full trade embargo, starting with oil.
Earlier this month he confronted US President Joe Biden during an address to Congress and told him to become the ‘leader of the free world’.
He also demanded the US impose more sanctions on Russia to stop the ‘war machine’, asked for fighter jets and shared devastating footage of civilians being maimed in Kyiv as he called on lawmakers to ‘do more’ to protect his country.
Before that, he channelled Winston Churchill’s wartime defiance as he delivered a historic address to the House of Commons from his war-ravaged country, vowing ‘we will not give up’.
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