The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has urged Irish students to take action to help Ukraine in the war against Russia.
In a livestreamed address to third-level students in Ireland on Friday, President Zelenskyy asked students to “look for specific projects that can help our defense and our people”.
“Please talk about what is happening and find convenient format to support . . . the more collective efforts we make, the sooner we will force Russia to leave the territory of Ukraine and fulfil its obligations to the world,” he continued.
President Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to Ireland and its people for welcoming 63,000 Ukrainian refugees since the invasion.
“I can tell you, select any time and you know that you and your government and your society have helped Ukraine in many ways.”
Before introducing President Zelenskyy’s address, Simon Harris, the Minister for Higher Education and Training, reaffirmed Ireland’s position: “Since the outbreak of this war, Ireland has been extremely united, extremely clear and extremely consistent with our neighbours right across the EU in calling out Putin’s war in Ukraine for what it is: illegal, immoral and unjustified.
“Ireland supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity. President Zelenskyy, we support you, we support Ukraine and we support your people 100 per cent.
“Let’s be really clear about this, whilst this country is militarily neutral, we are never ever neutral when it comes to moral or political issues in relation to Ukraine. There is no neutrality when it comes to what’s happening… we’ll never be neutral on that matter.”
Following the address, students were invited to ask the president questions. One student asked if he found that social media is a new frontier of war to which President Zelenskyy replied with “absolutely”. He went on to say that “unfortunately” Russia has been using this battlefield “that’s full of capabilities” to their advantage.
“They’ve spread the disinformation in many African and Asian countries, they have a powerful impact on Israel, on Germany and many other European countries.
“For the truths to be spread, it’s very difficult. It’s hard to overcome the false information – and it’s a component of this information war.
“We knew that if we would be able to penetrate this wall, to penetrate this informational lies, if we would be able to overcome this, in that case, would be able to unite the whole world and I believe that we did very well.
“This is not over yet, but still we’re hoping Putin can hear us and that the information that we have is becoming a weapon and becoming a powerful weapon.”
Another student asked how President Zelenskyy is dealing with the psychological pressures of the war.
Zelenskyy responded: “Perfectly normal. I’m a calm person, tranquil. Well, not every day surely. My team knows because there’s different days, different moments. That’s frankly speaking.”
Hundreds of students attended The Helix in Dublin City University’s (DCU) campus where the event was hosted, with hundreds more tuning into the livestream in 20 other locations around the country.
DCU president, Daire Keogh, stressed the importance of what Ukraine is fighting for:
“The issues at stake are not confined to Ukraine, they are central to the future of Europe. This war is not only or even primarily a military one, it is a clash in Europe between two ways of organising society: democracy and dictatorship. We have been at this crossroads before and there is only one path Europe and Ukraine can take. Accordingly, this is not just Ukraine’s war, it is our struggle too.”