The president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski, recalled on Tuesday the Nazi bombing of Guernica (Gernika, in Basque spelling), one of the darkest episodes of the Spanish Civil War, to ask Spain to understand the "pain" that Ukraine is suffering these days and ask for help.
Guernica, a symbolic town for Basque nationalism, was heavily bombed on 26 April 1937 by the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion, which was sent by Adolf Hitler to help Franco destroy Spanish democracy. The Nazis chose a market day to carry out the massacre, which was made known to the entire world by Pablo Picasso with his famous painting.
"We are in April 2022, but it seems like April 1937, when the world became aware of (the attack on) your city Guernica,” Zelenski said via videoconference in a speech before deputies, senators and the entire Spanish government, gathered to listen to his words in the lower house of Parliament (Congress of Deputies).
The Ukrainian president stressed that his country wants "peace". "Russia has been at war with us for a long time, since 2014, in Crimea and then in Donbas, but now we are facing the greatest aggression since World War II," he warned.
According to Zelensky, Russia's purpose is "to destroy the possibility of living without a dictatorship, without state violence, in an open democracy and in peace."
Bombings and massacres
The Ukrainian leader stressed that Putin wants to "dominate our region with his regime, destroy diversity and compromise between different."
"And he wants to do it all over Europe," he emphasized. And he asked the Spaniards for more weapons and stronger sanctions against Moscow.
Zelensky's words received almost unanimous applause, which, however, was not backed by some far-left MP's.
In his turn to reply, the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez condemned Putin's "merciless war" and advocated prosecuting the Russian president for war crimes.
Sánchez described as "terrifying" the images seen in recent days in Ukraine, of bombings and massacres of "innocent civilians."