Addressing the cities of Europe live via Eurocities on Saturday 12 March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked us all to hold one number in mind: 79. “79 children have already died in this war,” he decried, outlining the hopes we all share of seeing our children grow up, pick a university, find a partner and eventually turn us into grandparents.
“Millions of people are sustained by this hope, a hope for a peaceful life, for new photos, new memories, new moments of happiness – which our country Ukraine has now been deprived of.”
Watch his rousing address here:
President Zelenskyy reached out to cities in response to a moment of solidarity held by city leaders across the EU last Saturday, in which city squares packed with people calling for peace were lit in the colours of Ukraine. Zelenskyy invoked the image of Freedom Square in Kharkiv, “which is no different from your squares other that it has been destroyed by a Russian airstrike.”
He exhorted the leaders and residents of European cities to stand with Ukraine, their fellow European nation, by increasing sanctions against Russia, stopping European business from working with Russia, “so that you do not become indirect sponsors of this war and this tragedy,” and declaring Ukraine a no-fly zone.
Zelenskyy concluded by calling for further solidarity and for recognition of Ukraine as part of the European community. “This,” he said, “will prove that the 79 lives [of children] that were claimed by this war for our freedom were not lost in vain, that they are alive among us, among other Ukrainian children, European children who can live, who can dream, who can live the way they want to live – in peace, without fear of being killed.”
You can read more about some of the solidarity actions in EU cities here, and by following the hashtag #CitiesWithUkraine.