Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a direct warning that the evil of war could soon reach Australia in his address to both houses of the Australian parliament on Thursday.
The actor turned wartime leader spoke to the nation via video link from his besieged country as Russia’s bombardment on the outskirts of Kyiv continues.
Mr Zelensky called for new, powerful sanctions against Russia to hold the country accountable for bombarding Ukraine and using nuclear weapons as “blackmail”.
“The distance between our countries is big, thousands of kilometres, we are separated by oceans … but there is no such thing as distance for the brutality and chaos that Russia brought to the east of Ukraine,” he said.
“Whatever is happening in our region because of the Russian aggression … has become a real threat to your country and your people as well.”
He issued a dire warning that the devastation of war was not far away.
“It can instantly cross any distance, any barriers and destroy lives.”
The leader was greeted with a standing ovation, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison cemented his support for Ukraine and slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin as “the war criminal of Moscow”.
“Ukraine and Australia are separated by half the Earth … but we share an affinity for democracy, for freedom … and a belief in our shared human dignity,” he said.
“Here in the home of Australia’s democracy, we welcome you as a lion of democracy.”
He pledged to help the people of Ukraine rebuild from the devastation of the war.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Ukrainians were showing the world true courage as they “pushed back the tide of tyranny”.
“Putin and the regime that enables him will be met with determination and escalating consequences if he continues to prosecute this illegal war,” he said.
‘Urgent’ support needed
Global support is needed as Ukraine struggles fighting a “full-fledged war” sparked by Russia, Mr Zelensky urged.
“They are shelling our cities and virtues, they are killing our civilians and children,” he said.
“They are creating sieges of our cities and holding hostages of hundreds of thousands of people in those cities without water and food.”
Russia cannot strip Ukraine of its dream for peace and prosperity, but it needs help, he said.
“Our dream is undefeatable … especially if we can count on the support of the free world, on your assistance,” Mr Zelensky said.
“We need it not just in a couple of months, we need it urgently now.”