Zelensky appeals for help from Canada in emotional speech

In a room full of people, a man on a video screen places his hand on his chest.
Before addressing the Canadian Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky places his hand on his chest as he listens to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday.
(Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press via Associated Press)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Canadians on Tuesday to imagine bombs landing in their communities as he urged the Canadian Parliament and government to exert greater economic and military pressure on Russia.

Zelensky asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and lawmakers for help to enact a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Justin, can you imagine you and your children hearing all these severe explosions, the bombing of the airport, the bombing of the Ottawa airport?” Zelensky said. “Cruise missiles are falling down and your children are asking you ‘What happened?’”

Speaking by video from Ukraine to a packed House of Commons chamber, Zelensky said the Russian war on his country is designed to annihilate Ukraine and subjugate its people.


“Dear Justin, dear guests. Can you imagine that every day you receive memorandums about the number of casualties, including women and children?” he said. “You heard about the bombings. Currently we have 97 children that died during this war.”

Zelensky evoked British wartime leader Winston Churchill as he told the U.K. Parliament last week that his country would fight Russia’s invasion to the end in Ukraine’s cities. Zelensky also was to speak Wednesday to members of the U.S. House and Senate, an event that will be livestreamed for the public.

Canadian lawmakers gave him two standing ovations before he even spoke.

Shelling of an apartment high-rise in Kyiv killed four people even ahead of a key visit from leaders of three NATO nations.

“Can you imagine if the famous CN Tower in Toronto was hit by Russian bombs?” he said. “This is our reality.”

The video of Zelensky, wearing a green military T-shirt and sweater, was projected onto big screens in the Canadian Parliament. He thanked Canada for its humanitarian and military support and called the country a steadfast ally.

“Please close the sky, close the airspace,” he said. “Please stop the bombing. How many more cruise missiles have to fall on our cities until you make this happen?”

Zelensky said allies are expressing their deep concern, but it’s not enough. “When we talk to our partners, they say please hold on, hold on a little longer,” he said.

Trudeau said Zelensky is inspiring democracies and democratic leaders around the world to be more courageous and united.

Shelling of an apartment high-rise in Kyiv killed four people even ahead of a key visit from leaders of three NATO nations.

“Democracies around the world are lucky to have you as their champion,” Trudeau told Zelensky.

“Your courage, and the courage of your people, inspires all of us.”

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and Defense Minister Anita Anand are among more than 300 Canadians who have been banned from Russia.

Volunteers face grim decisions in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, as Russian forces continue their inexorable advance.

“I’m not surprised and I won’t back down,” Joly said.

Canada, for its part, announced new sanctions on 15 more Russians. Canada has also provided weapons to Ukraine.

“You have imposed severe sanctions, serious sanctions. At the same time, we see that unfortunately it did not bring an end to the war,” Zelensky said.

Canada is home to 1.4 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent.