Zelenskyy warns Europe not to let war become ‘routine’, urges leaders to pick a city to help rebuild

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged European leaders not to let Russia’s deadly war become a matter of “routine” and pleaded for additional security assistance to Kyiv. 

“They are getting used to the news about the new bombing of our peaceful cities. About new missile strikes. They are getting used to the updated lists of those killed,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the Dutch parliament. 

“For many…the war in Ukraine is becoming routine,” he added. 

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A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022. 

A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Mariupol, Ukraine, Saturday, March 12, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

Zelenskyy issued a series of virtual addresses to the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia Thursday in an appeal for more aid. 

While he thanked each nation for the assistance they have already provided, the Ukrainian leader scolded some of Belgium’s recent Moscow imports.

“There are people for whom Russian diamonds, sometimes sold in Antwerp, are more important,” he said in an address to Belgium’s parliament. “People for whom accepting Russian ships in their ports, and for whom the income from these ships is more important than our struggles.”

“I believe that peace is way more valuable than diamonds,” Zelenskyy added. 

An estimated 86 percent of the world’s diamonds are traded in Antwerp – an industry that has thus far escaped international sanctions.

Zelenskyy once again warned European leaders that Moscow’s aggression will not stop with Ukraine if Russian President Vladimir Putin is not stopped. 

“World War II began with the destruction of individual states as well. And then it led to the tragedy of Rotterdam, the terrible bombing of London and the massacre that engulfed all of Europe,” he warned. “Ukraine is just the beginning, if Russia isn’t stopped.”

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on screen, prepares to address the plenary chamber at the Belgian Federal Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday, March 31, 2022. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been appealing directly to lawmakers across the world for more help in its war against Russia. 

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on screen, prepares to address the plenary chamber at the Belgian Federal Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday, March 31, 2022. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been appealing directly to lawmakers across the world for more help in its war against Russia. 
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Zelenskyy said humanitarian atrocities inflicted by Russia lay outside the barrage of bombing that Ukrainians have endured over the last five weeks and claimed Ukrainians are now being forcibly deported to Russia.  

The Ukrainian president claimed that thousands of Ukrainian children and tens of thousands of adults have been forcibly deported across Russian borders from the southern town of Mariupol, adding that he had no information on where they now are or the condition of which they are in.

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Zelenskyy said he was thankful for the support provided by the U.S., NATO and non-NATO allies to counter Russia’s invasion, but said he needs more to continue to fend of the Kremlin’s advances, including more anti-tank and air-defense systems.

“We desperately need weapons that can make our skies safe, that we can use to unblock our cities where Russia is artificially creating famine,” he told government officials in the Netherlands.  

Zelenskyy issued a similar please earlier this week to President Biden, who agreed to send another $500 million in aid Wednesday – bringing the total amount of U.S. security and humanitarian support for Kyiv to a whopping $2.5 billion. 

But the comedian-turned global icon pressed leading nations to do more by slapping the Kremlin with another round of sanctions as Moscow starts to see the value of the ruble bounce back.

Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. 

Ukrainian soldiers and firefighters search in a destroyed building after a bombing attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 14, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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Zelenskyy said he is now looking to the future when Ukraine “will return to a peaceful life” and called on both Australia and the Netherlands to take an active role in rebuilding its demolished cities and towns.

“We invite the world’s leading countries, leading companies and the best specialists to join the project of Ukraine’s reconstruction. Take patronage of a region, city or industry of your choice in our country that needs restoration,” he told Australia’s parliament. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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