European Parliament Gives Ovation to Ukraine President: 'Light Will Win,' Zelenskyy Vows amid Invasion

The Ukrainian president's remarks came just hours after he submitted an application to the European Union asking them to grant his country membership

European Parliament. Photo: JONAS ROOSENS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received a standing ovation from European Parliament on Tuesday after delivering an emotional speech in which he said "light will win over darkness," amid Russia's invasion of his country.

"We're fighting for our land and our freedom despite the fact that all our cities are now blocked," the leader, 44, said in the speech to the European Union's Parliament, footage of which was shared by NBC News. "Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians."

Zelenskyy continued: "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness. Glory to Ukraine!"

His remarks came just hours after he submitted an application to the European Union to grant Ukraine immediate membership into the body — and the speech came one day after peace talks between Russia and Ukraine ended without any sort of agreement.

The request for EU membership strikes at the heart of Russia's aggression, as Russian President Vladimir Putin does not want Ukraine — a historic buffer with the rest of the continent — tied more closely with the West. European and NATO officials meanwhile have said Ukraine must make progress on corruption and other issues.

During the meeting on Tuesday, European Parliament's president said the EU will work with Ukraine toward their goal of membership, though the decision to admit the country would have to be agreed upon by all of the bloc's current 27 member countries, Politico reports.

In his speech, President Zelenskyy said Ukraine was "fighting for survival — and this is the highest of our motivations. But we are fighting also to be equal members of Europe. I believe that today we are showing everybody that's exactly what we are."

Zelenskyy has said he remains in Kyiv, his country's capital, amid the invasion and has made a number of public addresses. One previous speech moved a translator to tears.

The translator could be heard saying "excuse me," as she began to cry during those remarks, in which Zelenskyy said, "Ukrainians, we know exactly what we are defending. We will definitely win. Glory to each of our soldiers. Glory to Ukraine."

She later shared more about the experience on Twitter.

"I'm a conference interpreter, I interpret 10 hrs peace talks. But today live on German TV I couldn't finish interpreting Zelensky, during his last words I broke into tears. I love you all, my fellow Ukrainians," she wrote on Twitter.

Russia's attack on Ukraine continues after the country invaded on Thursday, with their forces — which reportedly far outnumber and outpower Ukraine — moving from the north, south and east.

Details of the fighting change by the day, but this is the first major land conflict in Europe in decades — and hundreds have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Thousands more people have fled or tried to escape Ukraine amid warnings of a possible "refugee crisis."

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Putin, has drawn widespread condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia. Various countries have also pledged aid or military support to Ukraine.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the interest of so-called "peacekeeping" — a claim those in the Biden administration have called "nonsense."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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