Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an annual address to his parliament on Wednesday pushed for the country to join the European Union.
“We helped the European Union acquire real agency. We helped Europe feel like not several championships with teams of different levels, but one strong team that, together with the whole free world, is fighting for this important victory. It was Ukraine that united the European Union,” Zelensky said in remarks to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s unicameral parliament.
“And now Europe defends itself. Europe overcomes crises. And this is despite the colossal resources thrown by Russia to break our continent.”
Zelensky said Ukraine “cements” the EU “and the entire free world with the struggle for freedom and peace,” and stressed that negotiations should start for the country’s entry into the union.
Zelensky has long been pushing for Ukraine to get EU membership, and signed a formal request to join the union back in February, shortly after Russia first invaded. The EU gave Ukraine status as a candidate for membership this summer.
The Ukrainian president in his speech to parliament said most Ukrainians already see the country as part of the alliance and support EU membership.
As Ukraine looks to put Russia through a tribunal for war crimes, one option involves a potential agreement between Kyiv and the EU host such a tribunal in Europe.
“We made it obvious to everyone that no union in Europe would be strong without Ukraine… It is time to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union,” Zelensky said.