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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy urges EU: Do prove that you are with us

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the European Union on Tuesday to prove that it sided with Ukraine in its war with Russia, one day after signing an official request to join the bloc, according to Reuters. 

“We are fighting to be equal members of Europe,” Zelenskiy told an emergency session of the European Parliament via video-link.

“Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness,” he said in Ukrainian in a speech translated to English by an interpreter.

EU lawmakers, many wearing #standwithUkraine T-shirts bearing the Ukrainian flag, others with blue-and-yellow scarves or ribbons, gave Zelenskiy a standing ovation.

“The EU will be much stronger with us. Without you, Ukraine will be lonesome,” Zelenskiy said, with Kyiv likely well aware that Ukraine’s membership bid will be long and difficult.

EU lawmakers are expected to call Russia a “rogue state” and urge the 27-nation bloc to agree even tougher sanctions, according to a draft text they will vote on later on Tuesday.

The European Union has taken unprecedented steps, including financing weapons deliveries to Ukraine, after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin launched war on its neighbour last week.

According to a draft resolution and amendments backed by the assembly’s main parties, lawmakers will call for the scope of sanctions to be broadened and “aimed at strategically weakening the Russian economy and industrial base, in particular the military-industrial complex.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “effectively makes Russia a rogue state,” the lawmakers are set to say.

While Putin “recalls the most dreadful statements of 20th century dictators,” Zelenskiy is being „heroic,” the draft of the non-binding resolution said.

The European Parliament will also urge EU leaders to be tougher on oligarchs and officials close to the Russian leadership, restrict oil and gas imports from Russia, ban Russia and its ally Belarus entirely from the SWIFT bank messaging system, and to close all EU ports to Russian ships or ships headed to or from Russia.

“The message from Europe is clear. We will stand up, we will not look away when those fighting in the street for our values stand down Putin’s war machine,” EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola said, speaking in front of the EU and Ukrainian flags.