Russia will “destroy freedom” in Europe and chase after its neighbor, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Swedish lawmakers in his speech on Thursday.
“If Ukraine will not survive and protect ourselves, this means … all of Russia’s neighbors are in danger from now on,” he said in a video link speech that received thunderous applause.
“Russia is at war against Ukraine because they want to advance further in Europe, they want to destroy freedom in Europe.”
“This is a fundamental challenge for the European security and defense system”, he said, urging Europe to issue a package of severe weekly sanctions against Russia.
He warned Sweden that Moscow had the Baltic Sea island of Gotland in its sights.
Sweden reopened its garrison on Gotland in 2018, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, after closing it in 2004.
“It means you are in danger, because only the sea separates you and this aggressive policy,” he said.
“Russian broadcasters are already discussing on the air, on TV, how Russia will occupy Gotland and how they will control it for decades”, he added.
“They think it’s comfortable to put anti-defense systems and bases there to accommodate advances in the Baltic states.”
Zelensky thanked Sweden for its support, after it agreed to send weapons to the warring country for the first time since 1939.
Not a member of NATO and officially not militarily allied, Stockholm on Thursday announced a second shipment of 5,000 anti-tank launchers.
Support for NATO membership has soared in Sweden since the Russian invasion, but Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has so far rejected the idea.
Joining the alliance risks “disrupting the stability” of northern Europe, he said.
Zelensky, who has made several appearances via video links in front of parliaments in other countries in recent weeks, is expected to speak at the extraordinary NATO summit late Thursday.
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