Translator chokes up during Zelensky speech at European Parliament

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A translator was seemingly moved to tears while translating an impassioned speech by the president of Ukraine at the European Parliament as Russia’s military invasion enters its sixth day.

Translating Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech live on Tuesday, the interpreter could be heard getting emotional. “This morning, two cruise missiles hit Freedom Square. … Dozens were killed. This is the price of freedom,” Zelensky said, according to the translator’s interpretation.

The interpreter then could be heard choking up.

“We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom,” he continued.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks via video conference to the European Parliament on Tuesday. (John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday morning, the square in the heart of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was struck by a missile, and the large explosion could be seen ripping apart cars. At least 20 people, including one child, were reportedly injured, and authorities are still trying to confirm the death toll.

​​Speaking via video link to the European Parliament, Zelensky went on to say that his citizens were fighting for their survival.

“Nobody is going to break us,” he said. “We are strong, we are Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one. Yesterday, 16 children were killed.”

Zelensky received a standing ovation from hundreds of diplomats at the European Parliament. The parliament’s president, Roberta Metsola, told diplomats that she welcomed Ukraine’s application for EU membership and would work toward it.

Members of the European Parliament stand and applaud.
Members of the European Parliament applaud after Zelensky’s address. (Virginia Mayo/AP)

“We are fighting also to be equal members of Europe,” Zelensky said Tuesday. “The European Union is going to be much stronger with us.”

The speech came one day after Zelensky asked for immediate EU membership as Russian troops encircled Ukrainian cities, and much of Europe has rallied in support of Kyiv. Speaking at a briefing at the presidential palace in Kyiv, Zelensky appealed to the EU for “immediate accession of Ukraine via a new special procedure.” He added: “Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing. I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible."

On Tuesday, the chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, also told the European Parliament that “the best support to the people of Ukraine in its darkest hours will be the real recognition of our European aspiration.” He added: “Give us the membership of the European Union.”


Where are Russian forces attacking Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.

Where are Russian forces attacking Ukraine? Check out this explainer from Yahoo Immersive to find out.