Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused some Belgians of valuing Russian diamonds and boats over peace, in remarks to the Belgian parliament on Thursday.
Zelenskyy continued his series of bespoke appeals to national parliaments by invoking Belgium’s own bloody experience in world wars — and its responsibility for propping up parts of the Russian economy.
“There are those for whom Russian diamonds that are sometimes sold in Antwerp” and for whom the revenue from “Russian boats in their ports” are “more important than our fight,” Zelenskyy said, speaking via video link from Kyiv.
He reiterated his call for weapons, a no-fly zone and the promise of eventual membership in the EU to help Ukrainians defend their country against the Russian invasion.
Belgians are all too familiar with violent invasions, Zelenskyy said. Ukrainians are fighting “battles no less terrible than those you knew at Ypres. Perhaps it’s even worse, what’s happening today at Mariupol.”
Those fighters are waiting for a no-fly zone, he said. “We have the impression that the Europeans don’t have enough courage,” he added, while Ukraine has already lost thousands of lives to “defend security in Europe.”
Zelenskyy thanked Belgium for being among the first to provide military aid. Yet he called for the country to do more.
“I think that peace has much more worth than diamonds, than the deals with Russia, than the Russian boats in the ports, more than the Russian oil and gas. So help us,” he said.
After a lengthy standing ovation, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo responded to Zelenskyy, mostly in English before switching to Dutch and French, praising Ukrainians’ “struggle for our common values.”
He told Zelenskyy, “We hear your message, and I understand your frustration.”
However, De Croo continued, NATO shooting down Russian planes to enforce a no-fly zone might cause “a wider war without any solution.”
De Croo said Belgium would send more military support and back an accelerated EU membership process.