Ukrainian president gives impassioned speech in Munich amid building tensions: ‘Someone is lying’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is being given accolades for the impassioned speech he gave in defense of his country at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

The conference, which has been held annually for 58 years as of Saturday, has served as a gathering place for high ranking members of various groups, both military and civilian, with more than 70 countries represented.

There was considerable concern over whether or not Zelensky should go, given the fact that his country is facing imminent invasion by the likes of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, but he insisted and went anyway, and succeeded in changing the minds of some of the naysayers afterwards when they read the transcript, which is provided in English by the Kyiv Post.

Zelensky began by noting that what everyone is saying does not match up at all with the most basic reality on the ground, that is readily observable:

“Ukraine wants peace. Europe wants peace. The world says it doesn’t want to fight, and Russia says it doesn’t want to attack. Someone is lying. This is not an axiom, but it is no longer a hypothesis.”

The president continued by drawing a shocking image that isn’t hypothesis – it relates an actual shelling of a Ukrainian school by Russian artillery, even as Russia proclaims Ukraine is somehow the aggressor:

“Two days ago I was in Donbas, on the delimitation line. Legally – between Ukraine and the temporarily occupied territories. In fact, the delimitation line between peace and war. Where on the one side there is a kindergarten, and on the other side there is a projectile that hit it. On the one side there is a school, on the other side there is a projectile hitting the school yard.

And next to it there are 30 children who go… no, not to NATO, but to school. Someone has physics classes. Knowing its basic laws, even children understand how absurd the statements that the shelling is carried out by Ukraine sound.”

Zelensky continued using the example of thing so simple children receiving the most basic education could understand:

“…And someone [from the school] has history classes. And when a bomb crater appears in the school yard, children have a question: has the world forgotten its mistakes of the [20th] century?”

Continuing with his analogy to Hitler and the Second World War, Zelensky directly addressed the cries of “its not our problem” from the west, even including allegedly “patriotic” “conservatives,” who until recently loved to excoriate liberals for their pacifism towards Russia’s ally, Iran:

“What do attempts at appeasement lead to? As the question ‘Why die for Danzig?’ turned into the need to die for Dunkirk and dozens of other cities in Europe and the world. At the cost of tens of millions of lives.”

“Why die for Danzig” was a phrase famously promoted to discourage intervention against Germany’s onslaught in Poland in September of 1939, spread by Hitler’s agents and sympathizers in France and elsewhere in the west – which Germany invaded less than a year later.

Zelensky went on to point out that the response of the west was woefully out of sync and behind the times compared to the rapidly intensifying naked aggression actually occurring against Ukraine by Russia:

“The architecture of world security is fragile and needs to be updated. The rules that the world agreed on decades ago no longer work. They do not keep up with new threats. They are not effective for overcoming them. This is a cough syrup when you need a coronavirus vaccine. The security system is slow. It crashes again.”

Continuing on that theme, Zelensky chastised the west for its tepid and weak responses to Russian aggression over the last few decades:

“It was here 15 years ago that Russia announced its intention to challenge global security. What did the world say? Appeasement. Result? At least – the annexation of Crimea and aggression against my state.”

The president went on to point to a dark picture of what would follow if the west simply fails to do anything as a pro-western democracy is obliterated by an authoritarian regime that despises the west:

“What is really important is the understanding that peace is needed not only by us, the world needs peace in Ukraine…”

“… Otherwise – who’s next? Will NATO countries have to defend each other? I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.”

The Budapest Memorandum was one of several international efforts that Russia has blatantly ignored, alongside the provisions of the Minsk Protocols. It was supposed to provide Ukraine ironclad guarantees of security in exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal, inherited from the dismembered corpse of the Soviet Union. Zelensky even mentioned that Ukraine is seeking to formally divest itself of the Budapest agreement, which would mean Ukraine would seek to re-arm itself with nuclear weapons, as Ukraine bitterly rues giving up its best weapons to defend itself for ephemeral promises of peace:

“Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have that weapon. We also have no security. We also do not have part of the territory of our state that is larger in area than Switzerland, the Netherlands or Belgium [occupied Crimea and the Donbas region]. And most importantly – we don’t have millions of our citizens. We don’t have all this.”

Zelensky also gave a rallying cry to his nation, defiantly stating that Ukraine will proudly defend itself, no matter the odds, and no matter who shows up – or doesn’t- to help:

“We will defend our land with or without the support of partners. Whether they give us hundreds of modern weapons or five thousand helmets.”

“…we will defend our beautiful land no matter if we have 50,000, 150 or one million soldiers of any army on the border. To really help Ukraine, it is not necessary to say how many servicemen and military equipment are on the border. Say what numbers we have.”

The speech drew praise on social media:

While an attack on Ukraine seems all but certain, history is sure to remember Zelensky’s defiant, poignant speech, though it remains to be seen if it will be remembered as a clarion call to action, or as the sad swan song of a nation that dared to desire independence from a corrupt tyrant who cares only for dreams of past imperial glory.


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