russias attacks escalate as zelensky urges european unity with ukraine
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Met with a hero’s welcome in Brussels, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine concluded a whirlwind tour of Europe on Thursday by voicing gratitude for his allies’ help — and seeking more support as the war with Russia is soon to start its second year.

Mr. Zelensky’s focus at a meeting with the leaders of all 27 European Union states was not the longer-range missiles and aircraft that he pursued in London and Paris on Wednesday, but financial aid to run and rebuild his country.

He also renewed his push for Ukraine’s quick accession to the European Union, though joining normally takes aspiring members more than a decade of work. Brussels, the Belgian capital, hosts most of the E.U.’s main institutions.

The trip, only the second outside of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, was a significant moment in Mr. Zelensky’s efforts to keep up international support. Politicians, officials, staff members and the press lined the staircases and balconies at the European Parliament, applauding Mr. Zelensky as he walked through the labyrinthine building to address a packed hall.

The Ukrainian leader was visibly moved when the Ukrainian national anthem played at the Parliament, holding his hand over his heart. He then pressed his case that Ukraine belongs in the European Union.

“This is our Europe,” Mr. Zelensky told E.U. lawmakers. “These are rules. This is our way of life.”

“And for Ukraine, it’s a way home,” he said. “I’m here in order to defend our people’s way home.”

Mr. Zelensky was then whisked a mile away where the leaders of the E.U. states were waiting for him. In an address, Mr. Zelensky called for continuous support for Kyiv.

He acknowledged Europe’s efforts to support Ukraine, including through sanctions on Russia, military aid and by weaning itself off Moscow’s energy supply, but called for his allies to do more, including opening talks this year for his country to become the bloc’s 28th member.

Speaking of his wish for Ukraine to “live freely in a united Europe,” Mr. Zelensky told the gathered leaders that his intelligence services had unearthed “a detailed Russian plan to undermine the political situation in Moldova.” Ukraine had learned about actions it said Russia planned to take to “break the democratic order of this country and establish their control over it.”

Mr. Zelensky — who called Russian subversion activities “nothing new” — said Ukraine had immediately warned its neighbor, where the presence of a Russia-supported breakaway region has raised concerns over the potential for an expanding conflict. “And each of you would have done the same, each of you,” he said.

Moldova’s Security and Intelligence Service said later Thursday that it had received information from Ukraine. Combined with its own work, the agency said in a statement, it could confirm that “subversive activities, aimed to undermine the Republic of Moldova” had been identified. It declined to provide further details, citing the need for operational security.

Russian officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Mr. Zelensky has addressed gatherings of world leaders, including E.U. meetings, often over the past year. But his tone for his in-person appearance was gentler than past video-streamed remarks in which he sometimes called out countries he felt were not doing enough to help Ukraine. The shift was a sign that his purpose in Brussels was to ask for a faster entry into the bloc but also to show appreciation for the support he has already received.

In a news conference after addressing E.U. leaders, he thanked European people for continuing to back Ukraine despite the costs, including by hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees. The majority of governments are squarely behind Ukraine, but many also worry about continued public support amid a backdrop of recession and historically high inflation.

Mr. Zelensky described Ukrainians as fighting both for their own freedom and for Europe’s.

“I hope that you understand that when you help Ukraine, you’re helping yourselves,” Mr. Zelensky said. “I would like to stress this is in the interest of all of us, not just Ukrainians, but all Europeans, that Russia should not make new missiles, that Russia should not attack our cities.”

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