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Translator moved to tears during Zelensky’s EU speech

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The official Ukrainian-English interpreter for the European Parliament has broken down in tears as he translated a speech by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In footage from the speech, the unnamed English language interpreter can be heard getting emotional as he repeats Mr Zelensky’s promise that the people of Ukraine will not be broken by the Russian invasion.

“We are fighting just for our land. And for our freedom, despite the fact that all of the cities of our country are now blocked,” Mr Zelensky told an emergency session of the European Parliament via video-link, as the narrator held back tears.

“Nobody is going to enter and intervene with the freedom of our country.”

The interpreter could be heard choking up as he translated Mr Zelensky saying: This morning, two cruise missiles hit Freedom Square. … Dozens were killed. This is the price of freedom.”

On Tuesday morning, Freedom Square – in the heart of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city – was struck by a missile in a massive explosive that also ripped apart cars.

At least 20 people, including one child, were reportedly injured. Authorities are still trying to confirm the death toll.

Mr Zelensky also urged the European Union to prove that it sided with Ukraine in its war with Russia, a day after he signed an official request to join the bloc.

“We are fighting to be equal members of Europe,” Mr Zelensky said.

“Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans and then life will win over death and light will win over darkness,” he said in Ukrainian.

EU politicians, many wearing #standwithUkraine T-shirts bearing the Ukrainian flag, others with blue-and-yellow scarves or ribbons, gave Mr Zelensky a standing ovation.

“The EU will be much stronger with us. Without you, Ukraine will be lonesome,” Mr Zelensky said, although Kyiv officials are well aware that Ukraine’s membership bid will be long and difficult.

Charles Michel, the chairman of EU leaders, told the EU Parliament after Mr Zelensky’s speech that the bloc would have to seriously look at Ukraine’s “legitimate” request to join.

“It is going to be difficult, we know there are different views in Europe [about further enlargements],” he said.

The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution – by 637 votes to 13, with 26 abstentions – calling for tougher sanctions “aimed at strategically weakening the Russian economy and industrial base, in particular the military-industrial complex”.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin “recalls the most dreadful statements of 20th century dictators”, Mr Zelensky was being “heroic,” they said.

The European Parliament also urged EU leaders to be tougher on oligarchs and officials close to Mr Putin, restrict oil and gas imports from Russia, ban Russia and its ally Belarus entirely from the SWIFT bank messaging system and to close all EU ports to Russian ships or ships headed to or from Russia.

However, EU politicians rejected an amendment calling Russia a “rogue state”.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” aimed at ridding the country of leaders it characterises as “neo-Nazis and drug addicts”.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Mr Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine had had the effect of uniting countries against Russia.

“If Putin was seeking to divide the European Union, to weaken NATO and to break the international community, he has achieved exactly the opposite,” Ms von der Leyen told the EU Parliament, a blue and yellow ribbon pinned to her jacket.

-with AAP

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