Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. On the eve of the attack, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky delivered a speech to the Russian people. The written version of the speech, published in Qatari-based Al Jazeera English on February 24, 2022, was translated for Bengali-speaking readers.
Today I called the President of the Russian Federation. I got silence in response. Although the Danbas region was supposed to remain silent. So I want to say something to the people of Russia. And that is not the case with the President of Ukraine. As a citizen of Ukraine.
A common border of more than two thousand kilometers divides us. Your state has deployed troops across the border. About 2 lakh soldiers. The Russian-Ukrainian border is littered with thousands of armored vehicles. Your leaders have allowed them to move forward. Allowed to infiltrate the territory of another country. And this move could start a big war on the continent of Europe.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky; Image Source: theguardian.com
We know for sure that we do not need war. Neither the Cold War nor the Heat War. Not even in the Shankara war. But if the enemy army attacks us; Trying to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children from us; We will resist. We will not attack, we will only resist. And when your state attacks us, you will see our face. No back, no face.
This war is a great disaster. And there will be a heavy price to pay for this disaster. Literally. People will lose money, lose respect, the standard of living will deteriorate. People will lose their freedom. But the biggest thing is, people will lose the people they love. Lose themselves.
Your state has told you that Ukraine is a threat to Russia. In fact, nothing like this has ever happened in the past, it is not happening now, it will not happen in the future. Your country wants a security guarantee from NATO. But we Ukrainians are also demanding security guarantees. We demand a security guarantee from you for Ukraine. I demand protection guarantee from your state. I also demand the other security guarantees described in the Budapest Memorandum.
But our real goal is to establish peace in Ukraine. To ensure security for our people, for the Ukrainians. For that we are willing to sit in dialogue with anyone. With your state. Any way and anywhere. If war breaks out, everyone will be deprived of security guarantee. No one will have any kind of security guarantee.
Russian President Vladimir Putin; Image Source: EPA / RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PRESS SERVICE / HANDOUT
Who will suffer the most if the war breaks out? The people of Russia and Ukraine! Who doesn’t want a war gun at all? The people of Russia and Ukraine! Who will stop this war in the end? The people of Russia and Ukraine! But are those peace-loving people among you? I’m sure there is.
I know that the Russian state will not broadcast my speech on Russian TV channels. But the Russian people must see it. They must know the truth. And the truth is, Russia has to stop before it’s too late. And if the Russian leaders do not want to sit behind the scenes with us for the sake of peace, maybe they will sit behind the scenes with you. Do the Russians want war? I want to hear an answer to this question. But only you can give the answer. Only you, the citizens of the Russian Federation, can give the answer.
Translator’s Addition: The Russian people have been protesting the aggression since the beginning. In the first week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (February 24-March 2) , Russian police detained 8,629 protesters in 121 Russian cities , according to the Russian human rights organization OVD-Info. Five Russian children, aged 8-11, have been detained in front of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow for protesting and scattering flowers with anti-war posters.