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Annotated Transcript: Zelensky’s Speech to Congress

The destruction of our country, the destruction of Europe. All American ports should be closed for Russian goods. We — peace is more important than income and we have to defend this principle in the whole world. We already became part of the antiwar coalition — a big antiwar coalition that unites many countries, dozens of countries, those who reacted too in principle to President Putin’s decision to invade our country — but we need to move on and do more.

We need to create new tools to respond quickly and stop the war. The full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24th. And it would be fair if it ended in a day, in 24 hours, that evil would be punished immediately. Today, the world does not have such tools. The war of the past have prompted our predecessors to create institutions that should protect us from war. But they unfortunately don’t work. We see it, you see it.

So we need new ones, new institutions, new alliances, and we offer them. We propose to create an association, U-24, United for Peace, a union of responsible countries that have the strength and consciousness to stop conflicts immediately, provide all the necessary assistance in 24 hours if necessary, even weapons, if necessary. Sanctions, humanitarian support, political support, finances, everything you need to keep the peace and quickly save the world, to save lives. In addition, such association, such union could provide assistance to those who are experiencing natural disasters, man-made disasters, who fell victims to humanitarian crisis, or epidemics.

Remember how difficult it was for the world to do the simplest thing? Just to give vaccines, vaccines against Covid to save lives, to prevent new strains. The world spent months, years doing things like that much faster to make sure there are no human losses, no victims. Ladies and gentlemen, Americans, if such alliance would exist today that is U-24, we would be able to save thousands of lives in our country, in many countries of the world.

Those who need peace, those who suffer inhumane destruction. I ask you to watch one video — video of what the Russian troops did in our country, in our land. We have to stop it. We must prevent it, preventively destroy every single aggressor who seeks to subjugate other nations. Please watch the video.

[After video plays, Mr. Zelensky resumes his speech in English.]

And in the end, to sum it up, today — today it’s not enough to be the leader of the nation. Today it takes to be the leader of the world, being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace. Peace in your country doesn’t depend anymore only on you and your people. It depends on those next to you and those who are strong. Strong doesn’t mean big. Strong is brave and ready to fight for the life of his citizens and citizens of the world. For human rights, for freedom, for the right to live decently, and to die when your time comes, and not when it’s wanted by someone else, by your neighbor.

Calling on America’s own image of itself as the leader of the free world, Mr. Zelensky argued that the United States had a moral duty to help defend Ukraine — indeed, any democracy under siege — even though it is not a member of NATO.

The appeal carried both emotional and patriotic overtones for members of Congress, and was a passage of his address cited by several lawmakers afterward.

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