A war of words: Why Zelenskyy corrected Anġlu Farrugia

‘We don’t have a conflict, we have a war’: The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a war of words just as it has been one of military aggression

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quick to correct parliamentary speaker Anglu Farrugia when he used the word ‘conflict’ to describe the situation in Ukraine.

“We don’t have a conflict, we have a war,” he said, mere seconds into his address to the Maltese parliament.

In the Maltese parliament, Prime Minister Robert Abela shifted between ‘conflict’ and ‘war’ in his speech, while Opposition leader Bernard Grech more consistently used the term ‘war’.

But what’s in a word, one may ask. The answer is simple: a lot.

The invasion of Ukraine has been a war of words just as it has been one of military aggression.

This wasn’t the first time Zelenskyy found fault with the terminology used to describe the situation in his homeland.

[WATCH] Zelenskyy tells Malta MPs 'the future of Europe will be decided on the battlefield'

Months ago, reports surfaced of an internal United Nations email advising staff to refer to the invasion as a conflict or military offensive.

Zelenskyy immediately called this out. He insisted that the ‘conflict’ is indeed a war, and that there will be “no playing along with the aggressor”.

In Russia, president Vladimir Putin has consistently referred to the war as a ‘special military operation’ to protect people who have been subject to bullying and genocide “for the last eight years”.

The ‘operation’ started on 24 February when Russian soldiers crossed the border into Ukraine and missiles rained down on cities across all of Ukraine.

And as recently as Monday, Putin continued to refer to the Russian invasion as a special military operation.

It is no wonder that Zelenskyy, a leader of a country that is trying to defend itself against Russia’s military might, took umbrage at the use of the word ‘conflict’.