Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is received by Assemblée Nationale President Yaël Braun-Pivet in Paris on June 7, 2024.

It was 10:02 am when Volodymyr Zelensky entered the chamber of the Assemblée Nationale, alongside its president, Yaël Braun-Pivet. The ranks were thin, with barely 200 of the 577 MPs having made the trip to witness the declaration of a head of state who has been at war for more than two years. Some were busy in their constituencies, while others simply refused Braun-Pivet’s belated invitation, a few hours before the end of the European election campaign. Several parliamentary group presidents were missing, including Olivier Marleix (Les Républicains, right wing), Mathilde Panot (La France Insoumise, radical left), André Chassaigne (Parti Communiste) and Laurent Marcangeli (Horizons, part of the presidential coalition). “France and its Assemblée Nationale are at your side,” declared Braun-Pivet from her rostrum in front of the Ukrainian leader. The lawmakers gave him a standing ovation.

In the front row were former Assemblée presidents Louis Mermaz and Jean-Louis Debré; former Socialist prime minister Manuel Valls; and Alain Juppé, a former prime minister and member of the Constitutional Council. Prime Minister Gabriel Attal was also present, along with ministers Stéphane Séjourné (foreign affairs) and Marie Lebec (relations with Parliament).

‘The Russian regime does not have limits’

Since the start of Vladimir Putin’s Russian offensive on February 24, 2022, this is the second time the lower house of the French Parliament has hosted a solemn address by the Ukrainian president. Less than a month after the invasion of his country, Zelensky embarked on a tour, via videoconference, of Western parliaments to call on the international community to consider the future of his country in the face of Russian aggression. On March 23, 2022, he addressed French MPs, reminding them of the need to support Ukraine, making several references to French history.

More than two years later, decked out in black and khaki, Zelensky took to the rostrum of the Assemblée, on the sidelines of the ceremonies commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and drew parallels between yesterday and today, between the Nazis and Putin’s war aims. “This war can spread, just as it did 80 years ago (…) In the 1930s, Hitler crossed red line after red line. Putin does the same,” argued Zelensky.

“The Russian regime does not have limits and even Europe is no longer enough,” he asserted, accusing the Russian president of having “rejected a diplomatic solution by launching a full-scale war and choosing to try to commit genocide of Ukrainians instead of a dialogue with Ukraine.” The Ukrainian leader then repeatedly thanked France for its military and diplomatic support. “Emmanuel [Macron], Mr. President, thank you for not leaving Europe without leadership and Ukraine without France at the most crucial moments,” he declared, to thunderous applause from elected members of the presidential camp.

You have 46.52% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.