Lithuania was the first country that came to help Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his virtual address to the Lithuanian parliament Seimas on April 12. “You were among the first to come to help in Ukraine and you remain the most concerned about peace and security in Europe,” Zelensky said, adding that Ukrainians will long remember the efforts and sincerity of the Lithuanians. He thanked Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė for paying visits to Ukraine despite the ongoing war. He expressed gratitude to President Gitanas Nausėda, for being the first “to take a decision and to send us real assistance, that is weapons, Stingers, etc. That was the proof of leadership”. The Ukrainian president also said “The Lithuanian nation is more aware than anyone how occupiers can destroy freedom and what is the cost of restoring independence,” noting that this was the type of leadership needed for the entire European continent.
However, the Ukrainian leader admitted in his virtual address from Kyiv that he had doubts about Europe’s resolve to stop the war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. “If there is still no clarity on Russia’s gas, no one can be certain that there is a common will in Europe to stop Russia’s war crimes,” he said. According to Zelensky, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been taken to Russia in a bid to silence them on war crimes committed by the Kremlin’s forces.
“They massively deport people from occupied districts. They have already taken away hundreds of thousands of people who are being sent to concentration camps. They take their documents, interrogate, humiliate or kill them,” he told Seimas. “Many of the deportees are sent to Russia’s regions and are banned from leaving. It is an attempt to get rid of all witnesses of war crimes.”
According to Zelensky, thousands of civilians have been brutally killed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. “Every day, we find bodies of people tied up in sewers and basements, tortured. There are villages that used to be large and have no people now,” the Ukrainian president said.
The events in the Kyiv suburb Bucha are only a symbol of what is happening in other parts of Ukraine, he explained, adding that “hundreds of cases of rape have been documented, including those of underage girls and even a baby.” The soldier who raped the minor was identified. “This is a paratrooper from Pskov, [Alexei] Bychkov, who sent to his friends a video of what he was doing to the baby, how he was abusing the baby. That’s what the Russian soldier is, […] that’s what the special operation planned in Moscow is, that’s the story of how the Russian world is being fought for,” the Ukrainian leader said. “Now, the Russian army will be associated with this,” he added.
Zelensky stressed that it was not only the soldiers who were responsible for the brutality but also the political leaders who give orders and justify such behaviour. However, he doubted whether the guilty will be punished.
A standing ovation for Zelensky expressed the compassion and support the Lithuanian parlamentarians and all Lithuanians feel for Ukraine. LRT.lt