Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed New Zealand MPs today, becoming just the second world leader invited to speak to the House of Representatives.
During his 10 minute address, which started with “kia ora” and ended with “nga mihi”, Zelensky reminded MPs of the impacts of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and revealed his intention to organise a global peace summit in the coming months.
Zelensky also thanked New Zealand for taking action against the Russian invaders. “New Zealand was one of the first countries to support Ukraine,” Zelensky said. The conflict had given world leaders opportunities to “prove themselves”, said Zelensky, who reiterated his thanks to New Zealand’s humanitarian assistance throughout the conflict.
“There is no true peace where the consequences of war can be there… We will liberate our land, we will win this war. The countries of the world are already taking leadership,” he added.
In response, prime minister Jacinda Ardern said that she hoped the president took notice that New Zealand MPs continued their condemnation of the war and had not forgotten it. “Our support for Ukraine was not determined by geography or by history… we asked ourselves the question: what if it was us?”
New Zealand increased its humanitarian support for Ukraine today, said Ardern, with another $3 million in aid being offered to the nation.
Speaking next, National Party leader Christopher Luxon said Ukraine “cannot and will not” lose the war against Russia, paying tribute to Zelensky’s performance as leader and saying he was “this generation’s Winston Churchill”.
Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin had underestimated the impact of Zelensky’s resolve and ability to rally the world as leader, said Luxon. “This war has proved that when you have to right for what you believe in, you need an army… this war has again highlighted the shortcomings of the United Nations,” Luxon added.
The National Party, like the rest of New Zealand, will stand with Zelensky and Ukraine, concluded Luxon.