"I am grateful to every citizen of Ireland," Ukraine's President tells Oireachtas

"I am grateful to every citizen of Ireland," Ukraine's President tells Oireachtas

THE PRESIDENT of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told both houses of the Oireachtas that Russia is weaponising hunger against his nation's people, and that he is grateful to every citizen of Ireland.

Speaking via video link a few minutes this morning, he told members of the Dáil and Seanad that Russia is "destroying things that are sustaining livelihoods to people."

"Why are they doing this? Because for them, hunger is also a weapon — a weapon against us ordinary people as an instrument of domination," he said.

"Ukraine is one of the leading food-supplying countries in the world. This is not just about the deficit and the threat of hunger for more than dozens of countries, Asia and Africa; it is about even more because there will be a shortage of food and the prices will go up."

Zelenskyy spoke about how in the city of Mariupol, 500,000 inhabitants have been put under siege and Russia has blocked access from the soil and from the sea.

"There is no single house left intact in a city of half a million. None. The dead and killed were simply buried in the yards of the condominiums. In many cases, they could not even do that: the bodies were just left there lying on the streets and in the remnants of the buildings and basements.

"They have done the same or they have attempted to do the same with the cities of Chernihiv, Sumy, Okhtyrka, Kharkiv, Izyum, Volnovakha and many other Ukrainian cities."

He said 927 educational institutions and 258 hospital have been damaged by Russian shelling, and that Russian have shot at 78 ambulances.

"The country that is doing this does not deserve to be in the circle of civilised countries. It should be held responsible for everything it has done on Ukrainian soil.

"Their state protagonists and their politicians are not even concealing what they want. In the 21st century, they are looking at their country as a colonial empire which allegedly has the right to subdue neighbouring people, destroy the foundations of their independent life and destroy their identity, everything that makes us Ukrainians.

"Today, when the world knows about the crimes against our people, we still have to convince even some European companies to abandon the Russian market. We still have to convince foreign politicians that we need to cut any ties of Russian banks with the global financial system. We still have to convince Europe that Russian oil cannot feed the Russian military machine with new sources of funding."



Speaking about Ireland, he said the people and government "did not doubt starting to help us," despite being a neutral country.

"I am grateful to every citizen of Ireland. Thank you for supporting sanctions against Russia, thank you for the humanitarian and financial support extended to our country and thank you for your care of our Ukrainian people who found shelter on your land.

Zelenskyy then asked the government to show more leadership in Ukraine's anti-war coalition.

"I ask you to convince EU partners to introduce even more rigid sanctions against Russia that would really make sure that the Russian war machine will stop. We have to put an end to trading with Russia. We have to cut the ties of Russian banks to the global system and cut the sources of their income from oil that they use for their weapons and for killing.

"The only thing we are lacking is a principled approach from some political and business leaders who still think war and war crimes are not as horrific as financial losses. I am sure Ireland's leadership can make a difference and change this."

Referencing the potential of Ukraine joining the EU, he said the relationship between Ireland and Ukraine is "already at a level whereby it is only a question of time before we can start living in a common European home."

"Thank you for Ireland's support for the accelerated procedure to provide membership of the EU to Ukraine. With your support, the process will be even faster and beneficial to both our nations. We need to start thinking about the restoration of our country after the war. We are inviting leading countries of the world to participate in rebuilding and restoring Ukraine.

"Ireland is known for its skill in valueing lives, its community development experience and its economic potential. Let us bring our efforts together and show that, jointly, Ukraine and Ireland can do much more than the biggest country in the world was trying to destroy. I am grateful to Ireland."

Speaking after the President, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Ireland is not "politically or morally neutral in the face of war crimes."

"Our position is informed by the principles that drive our foreign policy – support for international human rights, for humanitarian law and for a rules-based international order," he said.

"We are not neutral when Russia disregards all of these principles. We are with Ukraine."

He also addressed Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Ireland in recent weeks.

"I hope you find in Ireland safe harbour and friendship for as long as you need it.

Most of you, I know, look forward to the day when you can return to a peaceful and free Ukraine, to the family and friends you have left behind. That day will come. In the meantime, our home is your home."