The Canadian parliamentarians gathered at the House of Commons Tuesday morning before his speech, wearing suits and blazers, as well as scarves in the colours of the Ukrainian flag – blue and yellow. Many wore ribbons pinned to their chests in the flag colours, and the galleries overlooking the chamber were full.
Zelenskyy began his virtual address by calling upon the Canadian people to put themselves in the shoes of Ukrainians who are being shelled and subjected to horrific violence at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Can you imagine [the] famous CN Tower in Toronto, if it was hit by Russian bombs? Of course, I don’t wish this on anyone. But this is our reality,” Zelenskyy said, adding 97 children have been killed so far.
“Can you imagine when you call your friends, your friendly nation, and you ask ‘please close the sky, close the airspace, please stop the bombing, how many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this happen?’” he continued.
“And they, in return, they express their deep concerns about the situation.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders of the NATO military alliance have ruled out the possibility of a no-fly zone in Ukraine despite repeated appeals from leaders of the country.
A no-fly zone would require the United States to be willing to shoot Russian jets out of the sky – a red line that Trudeau and NATO leaders have warned could escalate into open conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.
Watch: PM Justin Trudeau Introduced Ukraine President Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy said the stakes of not doing so are clear.
“It’s their attempt to annihilate Ukrainian people, and there is nothing else to it. This is their main objective. It’s actually the war against the Ukrainian people, and it’s an attempt to destroy everything that we as Ukrainians do,” Zelenskyy said.
“Can you imagine famous CN Tower in Toronto, if it was hit by Russian bombs? Of course, I don’t wish this on anyone. But this is our reality,” – Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine
“Please understand how important it is for us to close our airspace from Russian missiles and Russian aircraft … I hope you can understand. I hope you can increase your efforts.”
Trudeau along with interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and others are also offering remarks about the increasingly dire situation in Ukraine.
In an opening speech introducing Zelenskyy, Trudeau described him as a “champion” for democracy and said the courage of Ukrainians “inspires us all.”
That prompted a standing ovation from parliamentarians and people in the galleries overlooking the House of Commons, as Zelenskyy began to speak.
Following his address, Bergen called the leadership Zelenskyy is showing amid the invasion of his country “very rare,” and called for Canada to do more.
“Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine is an attack on all of us. That’s the lesson history has taught us, and one we cannot ignore,” said Bergen.
“We need to protect at a minimum the airspace over humanitarian corridors.”
Watch: Parties Leaders Respond to President Zelenskyy Speech
Leader of the National Democratic Party Jagmeet Singh also praised the Ukrainian people for their “spirit of resistance” in the face of enormous odds, while Green House Leader Elizabeth May called for the creation of new tools to end the war if the world refused to impose a no-fly zone.
“We must not relent for one single second,” May said, calling Zelenskyy “a man of such moral courage that the world is inspired.”
In a post on his Telegram channel in the hours following his speech, Zelenskyy wrote that he hoped that he had been able to convey that “Russia is seeking to destroy everything that makes Ukrainians Ukrainian: our future, our character, our will.”. But they won’t succeed.”
In the last week, the sovereign democracy has been resisting the Russian invasion, launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, since it began on February 24. However, Ukrainian leaders have called for more assistance to come from western countries and NATO.
Russian advances are stalling and are proceeding at a slower pace than many had anticipated. Meanwhile, Putin’s forces are facing renewed accusations of indiscriminately bombing civilian areas.
According to the United Nations, 2.8 million Ukrainians have become refugees as they have been forced to flee to neighbouring countries, while millions remain to carry on the resistance movement.
Zelenskyy’s address comes after four days of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials failed to produce any significant breakthroughs. Zelenskyy continues to urge Putin to meet.
In recent days, Russian forces have attacked and launched missiles at two international training facilities, 20 kilometres from the border with Poland, in the besieged port city of Mariupol and a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Dozens are dead as a result, with more than 100 injured.
Watch: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses Canadian Parliament
Poland is a NATO country and the provocative missile strikes raised fresh questions about Putin’s willingness to test the military alliance, which has so far sought to avoid any direct confrontation over concerns about potential escalation.
Russian nuclear weapons number in the thousands.
Elenskyy’s speech follows similar speeches he delivered in the British Parliament and in the Parliament of the European Union. On March 1, he made remarks in front of the EU that was so stirring that the official translator choked up with emotion.
Zelenskyy received a standing ovation last week after an impassioned plea to lawmakers that he made during a speech to the British Parliament. He vowed: “We will fight to the end.”
Elenskyy is scheduled to give a speech in front of the United States Congress on Wednesday.