Zelenskyy to Germany: Tear down ‘wall’ dividing Europe

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — Invoking the fall of the Berlin Wall, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday urged the Bundestag to tear down what he called a wall between “free and unfree” Europe and stop the war in Ukraine.

In a video address, Zelenskyy appealed to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to restore freedom to Ukraine, tapping Germany’s collective memory with reference to the historic 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Zelenskyy described a new wall “in the middle of Europe between freedom and unfreedom,” which he said Germany had helped build, isolating Ukraine with its business ties to Russia and its previous support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

“And this wall is getting bigger with every bomb that falls on Ukraine, with every decision that is not taken,” he added.

Germany last month halted the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline project, designed to double the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany. 

Recalling former President Ronald Reagan’s appeal to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, to tear down the Berlin Wall, Zelenskyy told German lawmakers: “That’s what I say to you dear Chancellor Scholz: Destroy this wall.”

“Give Germany the leadership role that it has earned so that your descendants are proud of you. Support freedom, support Ukraine, stop this war, help us to stop this war,” he added.

Lawmakers in the Bundestag welcomed Zelenskyy with a standing ovation and the chamber’s vice president, Katrin Goering-Eckardt, told him: “Your country has chosen democracy, and that’s what (Russian President) Vladimir Putin fears.”

She said Putin was trying to deny Ukraine’s right to exist, adding: “But he has already failed with that.”

On Wednesday, Zelenskyy made another emotional appeal, confronting Americans’ conscience in a stirring speech to Congress, challenging President Joe Biden.

The Ukrainian president is not budging from his demands for the imposition of a no-fly zone. 

“Russia has turned the Ukrainian sky into a source of death,” Zelenskyy said.

Pleading that if that’s too much to ask for, Zelenskyy said he’ll take fighter jets and air defense systems. Biden responded hours later, saying, “We are united in our abhorrence of Putin’s depraved onslaught. and we’re going to continue to have their backs as they fight for their freedom, their democracy, their very survival.”

Meanwhile, Biden announced $800 million in new aid for Ukraine, bringing the total amount given to the country to $1 billion, following Zelenskyy’s speech. New resource includes 800 Stinger missiles, 2,000 Javelins, 100 drones, 7,000 smaller weapons, like grenade launchers, machine guns, pistols and rifles and 20 million rounds of ammunition.

But the White House won’t commit to sending fighter jets.

“If we were President Zelenskyy, we would be asking for everything possible as well, and continuing to ask for it, because he is watching his country and his people be attacked and brutalized by President Putin and the Russian military,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Nor will the U.S. impose a no-fly zone, fearing that it would mean World War III.

“A no-fly zone, which people often shorthand, essentially means us shooting down Russian planes and them potentially shooting us,” Psaki said.

Zelenskyy said in an interview with NBC News Wednesday night that World War III might have already started.

“And we’ve seen this 80 years ago when the Second World War had started nobody would be able to predict when the full-scale war would start,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy also wants U.S. companies to leave Russia and called for harsher sanctions every week against Russia until it stops its unjustified war.

The White House is feeling pressure from Americans, Congress and the world to keep upping its support for Ukraine while also walking a fine line avoiding further escalation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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