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State of the union. “Today courage has a name, and that name is Ukraine.”

The President of the European Commission today paid tribute to the Ukrainian resistance against Russian aggression in her State of the Union speech in Strasbourg, saying that “today courage has a name and that name is Ukraine.”

Ursula von der Leyen, wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag, blue and yellow, dedicated the beginning of her State of the Union address to the ongoing war in Ukraine, addressing in particular Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, today’s guest of honor in the Strasbourg Chamber.

“Courage has a face, and that face is the face of the Ukrainian men and women who have stood up to Russian aggression,” she said, saluting in particular the example set by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife.

“It took immense courage to resist Putin’s cruelty. But they found the courage. Ukraine is strong today because people like your husband, President Zelensky, remained in Kiev to lead the resistance, together with you and your children. You have given courage to an entire nation. You gave a voice to your people on the global stage. So today we want to thank you and all Ukrainians. Glory to a country of European heroes,” she said.

Stating herself proud of the European Union’s “united, determined, and immediate response” to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, Von der Leyen stressed that “this is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine; it is also a war against European values, against the future of Europe. It is an autocracy against democracy.”

“And I stand here with the conviction that with the necessary courage and with the necessary solidarity, Putin will fail and Ukraine and Europe will prevail,” he said.

Addressing Olena Zelensky, the Commission President assured that “EU solidarity with Ukraine will remain untouched.”

“I want to make it very clear that sanctions are here to stay. This is the moment for us to show determination and not appeasement. This has to be made very clear. The same applies to our financial support to Ukraine,” he said, then announced new aid, of 100 million euros, for the reconstruction of schools in Ukraine.

After the previous two years, the State of the Union was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, in what is Ursula von der Leyen’s third speech, the crisis remains in the background, but now in the light of the war launched by Russia in Ukraine on February 24 and its effects in Europe, particularly in economic and energy terms.

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