President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an emotional address to the European Parliament on Tuesday, appealing to representatives from the 27-member nations to grant Ukraine membership to the the European Union.
Zelenskyy spoke remotely from Kyiv as Russia's military assault entered its sixth day and a miles-long convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles inches closer to the capital, heading toward him.
"We are fighting also to be equal members of Europe. I believe that today we are showing everybody that is what we are," Zelenskyy said.
He said 16 children had been killed around Ukraine on Monday, and he mocked Russia's claim that it is going after only military targets.
“Where are the children, what kind of military factories do they work at? What tanks are they going at, launching cruise missiles?” Zelenskyy said.
As Zelenskyy described the recent shelling of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, including a missile strike on the city’s Freedom Square, his English-language interpreter grew emotional and began to choke up.
“Can you imagine, two cruise missiles, dozens killed,” the translator said, his voice shaking. “This is the price of freedom.”
He continued, "This is the price of freedom. We're fighting just for our land and for our freedom." Exhaling sharply, he added: "Despite the fact that all of our cities are blocked, that nobody is going to enter and intervene.”
Zelenskyy called the attack Tuesday on Kharkiv’s main square “frank, undisguised terror,” and considered it a war crime. “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget.”
"Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you indeed are Europeans, and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness," he concluded. "Glory be to Ukraine."
The address was met with a standing ovation from lawmakers.
Zelenskyy officially signed a formal request Monday for Ukraine's membership in the European Union and asked the EU to fast-track the application under a special procedure as it defends itself from invasion by Russian forces. The move was largely symbolic, as Ukraine is very far from reaching the EU's membership standards, and the bloc is expansion-weary.
But pressure is growing, with leaders of nine eastern and central European countries — Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia — calling on the rest of the EU to immediately begin the process of granting Ukraine membership.
This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.