Editor’s note: Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, made a video address to the TIME100 Gala on Wednesday in New York City. This video will be shown on TIME100: The World’s Most Influential People Sunday, June 12, at 8 pm EDT on ABC
Below are his full remarks.
Salutations from Ukraine to all ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate the chance to speak with you.
The moment I found out that I was [voted]Who is the most influential? [in the TIME100 Reader Poll]I took it as an acknowledgement of [what] all of our people are doing—all Ukrainians who are defending the freedom and independence of our state. And I’m honored above all to be a leader for these people.
Besides myself, this year’s top five features Elon Musk, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, medical workers who fought with COVID, and President of the United States Joe Biden. This ranking is made at a time when Europe is experiencing the worst war in 77 years—the war we cannot stop yet.
Why? We cannot stop bloodshed. Our influence is not functioning at its full potential. What is the point of a person on our lists holding so many people hostage when they are not listed? You will probably agree with me that these are all questions which seem to be literally in the air. Do you know the answer?
Continue reading: TIME 100 Most Influential Persons of 2022
Elon Musk, the second-ranked man on our most influential list and top of our top lists, was the top runner-up. This man is a rocket launcher and an awestruck world traveler, and pushes both the bounds of technology and intelligence.
However, the views of world leaders do not focus on Elon Musk or his rockets which are essential for progress in our lives. World leaders’ opinions are [directed]To those who use rockets to attack civilians or kill people. Russia launched more than 2600 missiles at Ukrainian cities during 105 days. The majority of the missiles were used against civil facilities, such as railways, bridges or enterprises.
At the same time, three people died in Odesa from one rocket: Kira (a three month old girl), her grandmother and mother. One family, three generations. Kira was just a month when Russia began a full-blown war. How did her life change? And what did her assassination add to Russia’s influence?
Elon and I talked at the start of this war. Elon asked me how he could help. He did. His technologies allow us to provide stability for our people. [Internet]Even after Russian missiles destroyed every infrastructure in the country, they still managed to do so.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine visited the locations of Ukrainian troops in Lysychansk and Bakhmut cities. It was on June 5, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Are there world leaders worried that Elon Musk will answer the phone, or if he might not accept their calls? Is it possible for leaders to think about how much time Elon Musk takes to sit at the table and have a conversation with their followers? What does this mean for the leaders? [influence]Are you ready to give the best? Which rockets are you using? Which rockets? Something has definitely slipped out of control, whether it’s our own influence, which we begin to underestimate or our attitude to leadership, [the] attitude [of]How to become a leader.
Boris Johnson is someone I admire greatly. Boris Johnson is an ardent defender and friend of Ukraine. However, not everything depends on him. Millions of people across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East will still have enough food to eat. It is the Russian fleet—not the British one or any other—that has blocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so that the world is on the brink of a terrible food crisis. And it’s not simply a price crisis. Our wheat, corn and vegetable oils, as well as other products, that played an important stabilizing role on the international market, cannot be exported. This could lead to a shortage in food supply for many countries. Millions of people may starve if Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea continues.
Continue reading: Inside Volodymyr Zelensky’s World
We are constantly talking to Boris and other leaders on how to lift the Russian blockade of our ports, and how to restore the freedom of navigation—one of the basic freedoms of all humankind. While we look for ways to preserve freedom, another person is trying to destroy it. Another person is continuing to feed the hungry world. This man is unique in every way, especially in his struggle for power. It begs me to ask: Why is it acceptable for certain leaders or countries that this person has an otherness?
You can answer this question, or I will leave it to you. To feel deeply within what they are called values. Are they real?
It’s only right that medical personnel who worked against COVID were recognized in this year’s TIME vote. They are indeed the greatest healers in our time. And with their conscientious work, they have encouraged the whole world to unite—finally, to unite. At first, indifferent countries thought that it was enough to just close the borders and provide themselves—themselves first—with a vaccine. However, it was soon clear that COVID-19 is not confined to national borders. The virus was not even ready to be handled by the best healthcare system.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, met Nancy Pelosi from the House of Representatives during an April 30th 2022 visit in Kyiv (Ukraine).
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/Handout via Getty Images
They had to fight with COVID-19 for a vaccine and to reach an agreement on common rules of action, which is a worldwide mechanism to distribute vaccines. Is this what is going on again? It is so hard to obtain this degree.
Also, weapons and sanctions can be used as a vaccination against COVID-22. Hatred is a virus, and it’s even more deadly than COVID-19. It is spread through propaganda—thanks to the impunity for murderers, thanks to Russian oil, which is still on the global market, thanks to money that is still flowing between the global financial system and Russian banks, thanks to the big companies which still believe that there is not enough blood on the money from the Russian market, although tens of thousands of people have died and millions have been forced to flee their homes because of this war.
If hatred calls at your front door, are you ready to respond? Are there any masks that can protect you against the Russian COVID-22 virus? And why is the vaccine against it—weapons and sanctions—so difficult to get in sufficient quantities? It is strange that certain countries make it seem as though COVID-22 doesn’t exist. Like conspiracy theorists, COVID-19 did not exist. Why is it that some people don’t learn anything from the blood and death of others?
Continue reading: How the West Can Stop Putin
I’m grateful to President Biden for uniting the free world when the Russian threat arose. We have many tools today to help us respond. There are three types of tools available to us today: financial aid and defense support for Ukraine. This is the Lend-Lease. [Act]This brings back the importance of the fight for freedom during World War Two.
However, Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing and right now, as you’re listening to my address, Ukrainian military are dying on the battlefield. Our cities are being bombarded by the Russian army with aircraft and artillery. More than 260 children have been killed in Russian attacks since February 24, and the list is growing.
What will happen to this?
This, in reality, is the central question. Yet, there is no clear answer. Is it because our influence is not sufficient? Are we cowards? No. Maybe we’re missing something in our true strength. Perhaps our influence or our leadership aren’t being used to its full potential. I am asking this question of the United States to all parties and to society to Democrats and Republicans to Congress to President.
Now is the time to become 100% influential. Tyranny can be defeated. Indeed, everyone of us—everyone—is the leader of our time. Freedom can be protected. It is possible to stop blackmailing from people who have no place on our lists. We can stop blackmail from someone who is not on our list. Influence obliges us to.
Many thanks. All praise to Ukraine
Read More From Time