Emotions Are High as Interpreter Breaks Down Translating Zelenskyy's Speech, Ukraine Activist Confronts UK PM

Ukraine president addressing the European Union's Parliament.
European Commission President Ursula applauds after remarks by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Getty

The official translator for the European Union's Parliament became emotional while interpreting remarks from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

A powerful speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the European Union's parliament so moved an official interpreter he momentarily lost his composure.

The unnamed translator faltered and took a moment to gather himself as Zelenskyy said 16 children had been killed by Russian bombs on Monday. The impassioned president also vowed his country would never surrender to an invasion by Russia that began last Thursday.

“Nobody is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians. We have a desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one,” Zelenskyy said Tuesday, via video hook-up from his country's capital of Kyiv. The day before, he applied for membership to the European body. 

"We have the desire for our people and children ([to be) living. I think that it is a fair desire. Yesterday, 16 children died. And again President Putin will tell you that this is some sort of occupation. They hit our civilian infrastructure, where our children are," the Ukraine leader said.

It was this description that appeared to give the interpreter the greatest pause, as he struggled to keep speaking as his voice broke and he seemed near tears.

"We are highly motivated people," Zelenskyy said. "Very highly. We are fighting for our rights, for our freedom, for our lives. And now we are fighting for our survival," he added. "Please prove that you are together with us. Please prove that you will not repel us."

Parliament members gave the Ukraine president a standing ovation after his stirring speech. 

Tuesday was not the first time a translator has been overcome by Zelenskyy's words.

Over the weekend, a veteran interpreter began to weep during a rebroadcast of a Zelenskyy speech for the German television channel WELT. 

"Ukrainians, we know exactly what we are defending. We will definitely win," Zelenskyy said, causing the translator to break down.

Zelenskyy was addressing the Ukraine people after a night of heaving bombing from Russian troops. 

"Last night was brutal in Ukraine. Again, the shelling, again the bombing of residential areas and civilian infrastructure," Zelensky said.

"We will fight as long as it takes to liberate the country. If children are born in shelters, even when the shelling continues, then the enemy has no chance in this, undoubtedly, people's war. To victory! Glory to Ukraine!" he said Sunday.

Emotions have run high since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded. Ukraine officials contend Russian troops have committed war crimes by targeting hospitals, schools and homes, killing women and children not involved in the fighting.

On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was confronted in Poland by a Ukrainian activist who said military intervention from the West was needed.

Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti Corruption Centre, told Johnson women and children are struggling to cross the border from Ukraine, and scoffed at economic sanctions leveled against Russia.

“You're talking about the stoicism of Ukrainian people, but Ukrainian women and Ukrainian children are in deep fear because of bombs and missiles which are going from the sky and Ukrainian people are desperately asking for the West to protect our sky," the woman forcefully told the prime minister, who appeared flustered.

“We are asking for the no-fly zone," she said. Noting that foreign nations have expressed fear that entering the battle would set off World War III, the journalist told Johnson, "It has already started."

The prime minister replied there was little he could do when it came to waging war against Russia.

"I said to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, I think a couple of times, unfortunately, the implication of that is that the UK would be engaged in shooting down Russian planes ... That's not something that we can do or that we've that we've envisaged and I think the consequences of that would be truly very, very difficult to to control," he said.

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