Fleeing home with more than 20 pets in tow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday appealed to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to “destroy” a wall that is separating Europe, drawing parallels between the Berlin Wall during the Cold War and Ukraine’s current position outside of the European Union and NATO.

Addressing German lawmakers via video link, Zelensky said: “We are separated by a wall. It is not a Berlin wall, it is a wall in the middle of Europe between freedom and bondage, and this wall is getting bigger with every bomb falling on Ukraine, with every decision not made for peace and that could help us. Why is this happening?”

Zelensky compared the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War to the current situation in Ukraine, saying: “The airspace was safe then but now we cannot build up an airbridge because Russian bombs and missiles are falling from the sky.”

Earlier in his address to the German Bundestag Thursday the Ukrainian president also explicitly referenced the post-Holocaust motto: “never again.”

“Every year politicians say never again. Now I see that these words are worthless. In Europe a people is being destroyed,” Zelensky said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky receives standing ovations before he addresses the German Bundestag via live video on March 17 in Berlin, Germany.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky receives standing ovations before he addresses the German Bundestag via live video on March 17 in Berlin, Germany. (Hannibal Hanschke/Getty Images)

Some context: The appeal to German lawmakers is Zelensky’s latest address to a Western parliament, following video link speeches to the US Congress, British House of Commons and others. In each speech, he has tailored references to his audience, such as citing Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to the Americans and echoing Winston Churchill to the British.

“We asked what Ukraine can do to join NATO, to be guaranteed its security and we were told that the decision was not yet on the table,” Zelensky told the Bundestag, adding that refusing to let Ukraine join the EU was like new bricks being added to the wall.

Zelensky also condemned German businesses for having closed ties with Russia, adding that economic sanctions had been implemented too late.

He acknowledged that Ukraine was, however, grateful to ordinary Germans who have supported the country, including “journalists reporting the truth and showing the evil that Russia has brought to us.”

“I am grateful to those who can look across walls,” Zelensky said as he ended his address to a round of applause and appealed to Scholz to “destroy this wall.”

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