"I ask for acceleration and strengthening of sanctions and military support, armaments," said the Ukrainian head of state on Thursday.
The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Thursday called for heavy arms and the strengthening of sanctions on Russia in a speech by videoconference to the Portuguese parliament.
“I ask for acceleration and strengthening of sanctions and military support, armaments,” said the Ukrainian head of state, who specifically asked for “heavy arms” at a formal welcoming session attended by the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and Prime Minister António Costa.
The president of Ukraine made this appeal to the authorities and the Portuguese people: “Whatever you can help with, I appeal to you, your country, to be able to help us.”
According to the simultaneous translation from Ukrainian to Portuguese broadcast in the Hall of Sessions, Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russian Federation of war crimes, stating that Russian forces have captured and deported “more than 500,000 Ukrainians” and said: “It is twice the size of the population of Porto”.
According to Zelensky, “the deportees have no right to connect with their families, they are being deported to the farthest regions of Russia”, where “they have made special camps for these people to be divided, some are killed, girls are raped”.
“Imagine if all of Portugal left the country,” the president of Ukraine added, referring to the refugees caused by this military offensive.
Ukraine’s head of state expressed the expectation that people who have left their homes “will soon be able to return” but added: “However, we cannot guarantee when this will be.”
Wearing a troop green t-shirt, as he has presented himself since the beginning of the Russian invasion, and having a Ukrainian flag at his side, Zelensky spoke for about fifteen minutes.
In the first part of his speech, he described attacks by Russian forces on civilians in various localities in Ukraine, recounting situations where “the occupiers killed people just for fun” and “threw bombs at schools”.
Zelensky highlighted the destruction of the city of Mariupol, “as big as Lisbon”, where he said, “not a single dwelling is in one piece”.
“In that city, 10,000 people or more were killed. We are not sure of the number because they made mobile crematoria to destroy the bodies, so we can never have evidence,” he claimed.
“We are fighting for our independence, for our survival, for our people, for Ukrainians, for them not to be killed, not to be tortured, not to be raped, not to be captured by Russia,” he declared.
The solemn session was also attended by the former President of Portugal António Ramalho Eanes and former Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes, among other guests.
After Zelensky’s speech, the formal sitting to welcome the president of Ukraine only included a speech by the speaker, Augusto Santos Silva.
The PAN member, Inês de Sousa Real, proposed this initiative, and it was approved with the support of all the parties except the Communists, who opposed it and were absent from the session.
The Russian Federation launched a military offensive in Ukraine in the early hours of 24 February with an invasion by ground forces and bombardments.
According to UN data, this military offensive has killed more than 2,000 civilians and caused the flight of more than 5 million people out of Ukraine.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on 2 March condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine and calling for an effective and immediate ceasefire, with 141 votes in favour, including Portugal, five votes against and 35 abstentions.