- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meeting European leaders on Thursday as he continues his second major trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine.
- In a speech to the European Parliament, Zelenskyy said the region was defending itself against the "biggest anti-European force of the modern world."
- The president's trip comes at a critical point for Ukraine, with authorities expecting a large-scale offensive by Russia.
BRUSSELS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meeting European leaders on Thursday as he continues his second major trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Ukrainian leader addressed the European Parliament Thursday morning and is attending an extraordinary meeting of the 27 EU heads of state later in the day.
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In his speech, Zelenskyy said the region was defending itself against the "biggest anti-European force of the modern world."
The discussions in Brussels come after a surprise visit to the United Kingdom on Wednesday and a last-minute meeting with French and German leaders in Paris that evening. It is the second time that Zelenskyy is known to have left Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24 last year.
The president is using his time abroad to thank allies for their support so far, while also asking for further commitments at a time when Ukrainian authorities are expecting a large-scale offensive by the Russians.
In London on Wednesday, Zelenskyy brought a helmet from a Ukrainian pilot with the message "we have freedom, give us wings to protect it."
Last month, Zelenskyy asked Ukraine's allies for fighter jets — a request that has so far not received the greenlight from Western nations. However, the U.K. said Wednesday it will provide training to Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said nothing was off the table when it comes to supporting Ukraine.
In Paris, Zelenskyy was also very clear with his requests to the French and German heads of state. "The sooner we get heavy long-range weapons and our pilots get modern planes, Emmanuel, the earlier our pilots can get modern planes, Olaf, the more powerful will be our tank coalition," Zelensky said.