Expert assesses Zelensky’s speech: one accent is most important

Ukrainian Prezident delivers the speech at the Seimas. Photo by Seimas

On March 13, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Lithuanian Parliament remotely. Lauras Bielinis, a professor at Vytautas Magnus University, argues that the most important accent in the Ukrainian leader’s speech was Western morality, Andresa Repšytė wrote in tv3.lt portal.

According to Mr Bielinis, the Ukrainian President’s address to the Seimas raised an important issue: which side the Western world chooses to take in its indecisive struggle against Russian aggression and in its refusal to give up Russian gas: the one that is measured in terms of money and profit, or the one that is linked to morality.

“The marking of the moral line was the most striking and most important point in Zelensky‘s speech. But, on the other hand, if we pay attention to the details, he mentioned the consideration of the sixth sanctions package and his request for the implementation of other bans in it – the supply of oil from Russia has not yet been stopped,” Bielinis told the news portal tv3.lt.

V. In his speech, Mr Zelensky stressed that Lithuania was one of the first countries to come to the aid of Ukraine and remains “one of the most concerned about peace and security in Europe”.

When asked whether this could be taken as an emphasis by the President of Ukraine that Lithuania is a leading country, Mr Bielinis said. He also stresses that Lithuania’s “contribution is not small, no matter how critical we may sometimes be of ourselves.”

“Our voice is heard. Naturally, being neighbours, a country that escaped from the Soviet Union, our situation and reactions are adequate. We proved this with swift and unchallenged reactions when war broke out in Ukraine. Zelensky appreciated this, and naturally, that voice is one of the manifestations of leadership that has proved its worth”, said Mr Bielinis.

Bernard Ivanov, associate professor at Vytautas Magnus University, said that the world has already witnessed many phenomenal speeches by Mr Zelensky. His address to the Lithuanian Seimas is no exception.

“He is a very brilliant orator and a truly charismatic leader. There were many good words for Lithuania. Lithuania was deservedly praised, and our example to others was noted. He also pointed out that if the whole of Europe was as determined as Lithuania, there would be no war at all.

There were also warnings about the danger ahead, about the inevitable battle to come, and that Ukraine needs weapons, that it needs support, and that the resources it has now are not enough. It was also an appeal to our politicians to do their utmost to support Ukraine”, said Mr Ivanov.

Nausėda urges the EU to increase sanctions against Russia

President Gitanas Nausėda said that Europe no longer needs to keep its room for manoeuvre, Russia must be punished with the toughest sanctions, and the countries of the Old Continent must give up Russia’s energy resources.

In Nauseda’s view, it is fundamentally the wrong approach when considering sanctions against Russia to retain room for manoeuvre if the Kremlin’s behaviour changes.

“We have already reached a point where it is simply not possible to imagine greater horrors. For example, president Zelensky spoke today about a raped baby. What more horrible things have to happen before we finally realise that we have to push the accelerator to the limit, because only in this way can we achieve a real result and stop Russia in this inhuman war,” said Nausėda after President Zelensky’s speech at the Lithuanian Parliament.

The Lithuanian President urged European partners to follow our example, as Lithuania has been perhaps the most dependent on Russian energy resources.

“Today, we are the first to announce that we will no longer buy gas, oil or other energy resources from this aggressive country. And we are ready to keep that promise. I believe that today all countries have excellent opportunities to buy oil from other countries, from other producers”, said Nausėda.

“There is no need to look for apologies, arguments, excuses. We just need to say – that there is a lack of political will. And to make sure that there is no lack of will, I would simply suggest looking at the images, which are very abundant. Look at them as people, not as politicians, as people. And then come to a conclusion whether we still need to save and save, or whether we need to do it and do it now,” the President stated.

Zelensky addressed the Parliament

V. Zelensky began his speech by thanking the Speaker of the Seimas Viktoria Čmilyte-Nielsen, President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrid Šimonyte, who were visiting Kyiv.

According to the President of Ukraine, the future of Europe depends on the perception of values and the common response of the countries of the Old Continent.

“We are witnessing war crimes committed by the Russian Federation. Every day we find people killed, there are thousands of victims, hundreds of cases of torture. People are found in sewers, in cellars, they are tied up, and their bodies are destroyed. There are villages that used to be very large and now have no population, one hundred children without parents. We still do not know how many victims there are. There are hundreds of cases where people have been raped, including underage girls and very young children, or even a baby. It is just terrible to talk about it, but it is true, and it was true”, said Mr Zelensky.

He said that a soldier from Pskov had been identified who sent a video to his friends of what he was doing to a baby, how he was mocking it.

“This is the Russian soldier, this child protector. This is the special operation that was planned in Moscow. This is the story of how he fought for the Russian world. This is how you associate the Russian army, the Russian paratroopers from Pskov who raped a baby. Russian propagandists have probably already started to justify this and to deny that this was the case or that it was self-defence”, said Mr Zelensky

According to the Ukrainian President, the responsibility for such crimes will fall on the paratroopers or the Russian propagandists and on the European countries that do not switch off Russian television.

“Maybe the [Russian] defence minister will call in such paratroopers to protect his children? His children, his grandchildren. He doesn’t want this, this honourable minister”, Zelensky quoted.

According to him, this is an attempt to get rid of witnesses to war crimes in Ukraine.

“Is it possible that they did this without orders from their leaders? No, it is impossible. Is it possible that the Russian authorities do not understand the consequences of this? No, it is impossible. But it is happening, and it is happening on our Ukrainian soil. Why? The cynical answer is that they are sure that they will not be punished. They know that the world and Europe will forget this. They have a very simple logic that everybody needs to trade with Russia, everybody needs oil and gas, everybody will want Russian territory for transit, and everybody will want to have the Russian market. That is the thinking in Moscow. If everyone in Europe was as principled and as respectful of values as you are in Lithuania, and we are proud of you, I am sure that the Russian authorities would not expect everything to work out for them. This war would probably not have happened, and nobody would have dared to take such a decision. And now, what do we have, what do we see? The European Union is discussing the sixth package of sanctions, which has been unprecedented since the Second World War. But it remains to be seen whether the sanctions will include oil, despite having seen the massacres in Buche and other cities, having seen the deportations of people and having seen the bombing of cities,” said Mr Zelensky.

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