Le Pays De France - Zelensky urges Germany to tear down new Russian 'Wall' in Europe

Paris -
Zelensky urges Germany to tear down new Russian 'Wall' in Europe
Zelensky urges Germany to tear down new Russian 'Wall' in Europe

Zelensky urges Germany to tear down new Russian 'Wall' in Europe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Germany in an emotional video address before parliament Thursday to help destroy a new "Wall" Russia was erecting in Europe.

Text size:

"It's not a Berlin Wall -- it is a Wall in central Europe between freedom and bondage and this Wall is growing bigger with every bomb" dropped on Ukraine, Zelensky told MPs.

Appearing on a screen in his now trademark khaki T-shirt with dark rings under his eyes, Zelensky was welcomed by MPs in the Bundestag lower house with a standing ovation.

In a speech steeped in historical imagery from Germany's triumph over its Cold War division, Zelensky addressed Chancellor Olaf Scholz directly with a call for greater solidarity with Ukraine.

"Dear Mr Scholz, tear down this Wall," he implored, evoking US President Ronald Reagan's 1987 appeal to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

"Give Germany the leadership role that you in Germany deserve."

- 'Economy, economy, economy' -

Zelensky however coupled his flattery with a strong rebuke of Berlin's years-long reluctance to stand up to Moscow and sever its strong energy and business ties with Russia.

"We turned to you," he said. "We told you that Nord Stream (gas pipelines) was a kind of preparation for the war.

"And the answer we got was purely economic -- it is economy, economy, economy but that was the mortar for the new Wall."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 prompted an overhaul of key planks of Germany's energy, economic and security policy -- some of them dating back to the end of World War II.

It has put the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project on ice, joined allies in imposing punishing sanctions on Russia and pledged a massive increase in defence spending while dropping a ban on arms exports to conflict zones in order to aid Ukraine.

Germany has also said it aims to be nearly free of Russian oil imports by the end of this year although it still remains heavily dependent on Russian gas.

However Berlin has resisted an outright halt to Russian energy imports, warning it would cause winter shortages and drive inflation, creating potential instability in Europe's top economy.

Zelensky stressed that the future of the continent was at stake in the current war and argued that governments across the West were failing to meet the moment.

"Every year politicians repeat 'never again'," the Ukrainian leader said, referring to annual Holocaust commemorations.

"And now, we see that these words simply mean nothing. A people is being destroyed in Europe," he said, noting that 108 children had been killed in his country since the start of the Russian offensive.

"Help us stop this war."

Despite his blunt criticism, MPs gave Zelensky another standing ovation after his 15-minute address.