European Union leaders welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a standing ovation as he made his case to push for more weapons in the fight against Russia’s invasion and begins talks on European Union membership for his war-torn country.
Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels, Zelenskyy thanked EU leaders for the continued assistance to his country and said Ukraine will emerge victorious from the war and will be part of the EU.
European Parliament head Roberta Metsola said she backs Zelenskyy's call for more support. “We know the sacrifice your people have endured for Europe and we must honor it not only with words but with action,” Metsola said. “The jets you need to protect the liberty too many have taken for granted.”
Metsola called on EU member states to take action.
“You need to win and now [EU] member states must consider quickly as the next step providing long-range systems and the jets that you need to protect your liberty.”
Zelenskyy said with the support of allies, Ukrainians are “defending ourselves against [the] biggest anti-European force of the modern world.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also confirmed Thursday that the European Union plans to deliver more military assistance to Ukraine.
Zelenskyy was accompanied by his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, on Thursday on his way to attend a summit to address the EU parliament.
If security concerns permit, Zelenskyy will address a summit of the 27-nation bloc in his push to secure tanks, jets and missiles.
The Ukrainian leader is on a three-nation tour seeking support from allies in Europe as the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion nears. Ukrainian officials have said they expect Russia to time a new offensive in the east around the Feb. 24 anniversary.
Zelenskyy flew to London on Wednesday to thank the British people for their support in fending off Russia’s nearly yearlong invasion of his country and predicted that Ukraine would win the war.
"We know freedom will win, we know Russia will lose," Zelenskyy told the British Parliament. "We know the victory will change the world, and this will be the change that the world has long needed. The United Kingdom is marching with us towards the most important victory of our lifetime."
Zelenskyy also met with King Charles at Buckingham Palace in what was Zelenskyy’s second trip abroad since the Russian invasion began. In December, the Ukrainian leader went to Washington to meet with President Joe Biden and address Congress.
Later Wednesday, Zelenskyy met with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Paris.
"I have come here and stand before you on behalf of the brave, on behalf of our warriors, who are now in the trenches under enemy artillery fire," Zelenskyy told Parliament, paying tribute to Ukraine's military. "I thank you for your bravery. ... London has stood with Kyiv since Day One."
Britain has been one of Ukraine’s biggest military supporters, sending more than $2.5 billion in weapons and equipment.
The visit came as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that Britain would train Ukrainian pilots on "NATO-standard fighter jets." More than 10,000 Ukrainian troops have also been trained at bases in the United Kingdom, some on the Challenger 2 tanks that Britain is sending.
Zelenskyy called on British lawmakers to offer even more advanced fighter jets, a plea he has also made to the United States and its Western allies.
"We ... will do everything possible and impossible to make the world provide us with modern planes to empower and protect pilots who will be protecting us," Zelenskyy said.
Later, at a joint news conference in front of a tank at the Lulworth Camp training base, Sunak said fighter jets were "part of the conversation" about support for Ukraine.
"Nothing is off the table," he said. "We must arm Ukraine in the short term, but we must bolster Ukraine for the long term."
On the battlefront, Ukraine said Russia was continuing its artillery bombardment in the eastern region of the country, in what Kyiv officials have said they think is part of a new thrust to mark the anniversary of the invasion.
Russian forces over the past day also launched major shelling on areas near the front line in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region, killing a 74-year-old woman and wounding a 16-year-old girl in the border town of Vovchansk, local Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.
Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands said Tuesday that they were planning to send at least 100 older, refurbished Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.
The Leopard 1 tanks were manufactured from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s and, once made battle-ready again, will not reach Kyiv’s fighters until the summer months. The defense ministers of Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands said in a statement that the additional weaponry would "significantly enhance Ukraine’s military potential for the restoration of their violated territorial integrity."
The German defense ministry said that authorities in Berlin had approved the export of up to 178 Leopard 1 A5 tanks to Ukraine, but that the number sent would depend on the refurbishments required. Germany has not used the tanks since 2003.
The new weapons deployment will come in addition to Germany’s recent announcement that it would dispatch 14 newer Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine’s fighters. The U.S. said it would supply 30 of its front-line Abrams tanks.