President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Irish politicians that the country had supported Ukraine “since the very first days” of Russia’s invasion despite its policy of military neutrality.
President Volodymyr Zelensky was addressing a joint sitting of the Oireachtas (Irish houses of parliament).
“You began doing this [supporting Ukraine] right away,” he said.
“Thank you for supporting sanctions against Russia.
“Thank you for the humanitarian and financial support extended to our country and thank you for your caring about Ukrainian people who found shelter on your land.”
However, Mr Zelensky, whose remote address to Irish parliament members comes six weeks after the invasion began, called for the Irish government to convince EU partners to introduce tougher sanctions against Russia.
The EU is meeting later on Wednesday to discuss further sanctions after allegations of Russian war crimes.
“We have to put an end to trading with Russia,” the Ukrainian president said.
“We have to cut ties of the Russian banks to the global system and cut the sources of their income from oil that they use for their weapons and killing.”
He also accused Russia of “deliberately provoking a food crisis” in Ukraine by targeting storage depots.
“They are blocking humanitarian access to the half-million people in Mariupol who can no longer melt snow for water.
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They are bombing 24/7. There is no single house left intact”, Mr Zelensky said.
He added that Russian forces had blocked all of Ukraine’s seaports and ships, and were “destroying things that are sustaining livelihoods”.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest producers in agriculture and food and the country’s president said Russia’s actions would lead to a shortage of food and heightening costs for millions of people across the globe.
“For them hunger is a weapon against us, ordinary people, as an instrument of domination,” he added.
He said that at least 167 children have been killed since the war began.
Mr Zelensky told the Oireachtas: “I am sure your leadership can make a difference and change this.
“I’m sure that the whole of Europe can stop this war and bring peace and stability to the east of Europe. We can not delay any longer.”
The Ukrainian president received a standing ovation after he finished his address.