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‘We have a desire to see our children alive.’ Zelensky met with standing ovation after impassioned speech at European Parliament.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (center) applauds Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who appears on a screen as he speaks in a video conference.JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky drew a standing ovation and left an English interpreter fighting back emotion as he spoke about Ukrainian freedom before the European Parliament on Tuesday.

Condemning Russian strikes on Freedom Square in Kharkiv, a major landmark in Ukraine where missiles reportedly struck a government building, opera house, and concert hall, Zelensky declared that every square in Ukraine would soon be called “Freedom Square,” according to a translator.

”We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom,” Zelensky said as an interpreter struggled to hold back emotion. “Every square after today, no matter what it’s called, it’s going to be called ... Freedom Square, in every city of our country.”


Russian shelling struck civilian areas of Kharkiv on Monday, killing at least 11 people and injuring many more.

Zelensky added, according to the interpreter: “Nobody’s going to break us. We’re strong, we’re Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one.”

Zelensky’s address came the day after he signed an application for Ukraine to join the European Union. As he completed his speech, members of the European Parliament rose from their seats for a standing ovation.

Watch more from the speech:

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.