Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for heavy arms and the strengthening of sanctions on Russia in a speech by videoconference to the Portuguese parliament on Thursday.
“I ask for acceleration and strengthening of sanctions and military support, armaments,” said the Ukrainian head of state, who specifically asked for “heavy arms” at a formal welcoming session attended by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa.
Zelenskyy made an appeal to the authorities and the Portuguese people. “Whatever you can help with, I appeal to you, your country, to be able to help us,” he told them.
Zelenskyy accused the Russian Federation of war crimes, stating that Russian forces have captured and deported “more than 500,000 Ukrainians”.
According to Zelenskyy, “the deportees have no right to connect with their families, they are being deported to the farthest regions of Russia,” where “they have made special camps for these people to be divided, some are killed, girls are raped.”
“Imagine if all of Portugal left the country,” he added.
Ukraine’s head of state expressed the expectation that people who have left their homes “will soon be able to return” but added that “we cannot guarantee when this will be.”
Wearing a troop green t-shirt, as he has presented himself since the beginning of the Russian invasion, and having a Ukrainian flag at his side, Zelenskyy spoke for about fifteen minutes.
In the first part of his speech, he described attacks by Russian forces on civilians in various parts of Ukraine, recounting situations where “the occupiers killed people just for fun” and “threw bombs at schools.”
Zelenskyy highlighted the destruction of the city of Mariupol, “as big as Lisbon,” where he said, “not a single dwelling is in one piece.”
“In that city, 10,000 people or more were killed. We are not sure of the number because they made mobile crematoria to destroy the bodies, so we can never have evidence,” he claimed.
“We are fighting for our independence, for our survival, for our people, for Ukrainians, for them not to be killed, not to be tortured, not to be raped, not to be captured by Russia,” he declared.
After Zelenskyy’s speech, the formal sitting to welcome the president of Ukraine included a speech by the speaker, Augusto Santos Silva.
The PAN member, Inês de Sousa Real, proposed the speech, and it was approved with the support of all the parties except the Communists, who were absent from the session.