VILNIUS – Lithuania is one of the first countries that have come to help Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said in his virtual address to the Seimas of Lithuania.
“You were among the first to come to help in Ukraine and you remain the most concerned about peace and security in Europe,” he said on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian leader stated that the Ukrainians would long remember the efforts and sincerity of the Lithuanians. He thanked Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte for paying visits to Ukraine despite ongoing war.
“I am grateful to you, Mr. Gitanas [Nauseda], that you were the first […] to take a decision and to send us real assistance, that is weapons, Stingers, etc. That was the proof of leadership,” Zelensky told the Lithuanian president who attended the parliamentary sitting to listen to his Ukrainian counterpart’s address.
“The Lithuanian nation is more aware than anyone how occupiers can destroy freedom and what is the cost of restoring independence,” the Ukrainian president said adding that this was the type of leadership necessary for the entire European continent.
While addressing the Seimas, Zelensky said that the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine had raised a strategic question about values, their continuing importance, for Europe.
“Are the values that formed the basis of Europe after the WWII still truly alive? Have they become outdated and can only serve as a museum object for tourists?” he said while talking about the killing, torture and rape of civilians by Russian troops.
According to Zelensky, Russia hopes that Europe, the Western countries will soon forget about what is going on in his country at present.
“They [Russia] are certain that they will not be punished, they know that the world and Europe will make sure that this is forgotten, or Europe’s claims can simply be got rid of. They follow a very simple logic – all countries need to trade, all countries need oil, gas, all countries will want Russia’s territory for transit, its market,” he said.
“If everyone in Europe was as principled and respectful of values as you in Lithuania – and we are proud of you – I am certain that Russia’s leadership would not be able to believe that they would escape unpunished. Moreover, in such a case this war would not have happened,” the Ukrainian president stated.
Even though the European Union was already discussing the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, those measures did not have the desired effects, he stressed.
With the Community still split on an embargo on Russia’s oil and gas imports, the Ukrainian leader admitted having doubts about Europe’s will to stop war crimes and compel Russia to cease hostilities.
“Despite having seen the sites of mass killings in Bucha, other towns, despite being aware about deportations and despite seeing the destruction, bombardment of cities, some countries are still unable to make up their mind, to limit their imports of resources from Russia at least to some extent,” Zelensky said.
At the same time, he thanked Lithuania for being the first to give up Russian gas imports.
He reminded that, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of European companies and banks had not yet ceased their operations in Russia in a wait-and-see stance.
The Ukrainian President addressed the Seimas of Lithuania remotely from Kyiv. He spoke in the Ukrainian language.
Following the address, the Lithuanian MPs adopted a resolution condemning Russia’s ongoing military aggression and war crimes in Ukraine.
Russia launched its military invasion of the neighboring country on February 24. While announcing a “military operation” in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that its aim was to “denazify and demilitarize” Ukraine.
The war has led to widespread destruction of civil infrastructure and housing in Ukraine and the discovery of mass graves of civilians, some of whom were tortured, in the territories retaken from the Russian army.
Since the beginning of the war, Zelensky has remotely addressed the parliaments of many countries around the world.