Zelenskyy Outlines Formula for Punishing Russia and Providing Security Guarantees

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, addressing the Assembly via a pre-recorded video statement, stressed that “a crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment” for its stolen territory, its murdered, tortured people and the catastrophic turbulence that the Russian Federation has inflicted on his country and the entire world

Credit – UN Photo/Mark Garten

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, addressing the Assembly via a pre-recorded video statement, stressed that “a crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment” for its stolen territory, its murdered, tortured people and the catastrophic turbulence that the Russian Federation has inflicted on his country and the entire world.  He stated that there is only one entity “who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he is happy with this war — his war”.  Outlining a five-element “formula for peace”, he cited sanctions against and isolation of the aggressor within international institutions, and visa restrictions.  There must also be a special tribunal on the Russian Federation to send a signal to all would-be aggressors.

While the General Assembly is speaking today, 445 bodies are being exhumed from a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Izium — and the only difference between this and what the world saw in Bucha was the actual burial, he said.  Moscow wants to spend the winter preparing its forces for a new offensive — “for new Buchas, new Iziums”.  “None of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness,” he stressed, underscoring that the Russian Federation’s “radiation blackmail” should concern everyone.  “We must finally recognize that Russia is a State sponsor of terrorism at all levels”, he stated, calling for security guarantees — the right of every nation, not only the largest and most-fortunate.  “What is not in our formula is neutrality,” he said, noting that those who speak of neutrality when human values and peace are under attack “mean something else”.

Egils Levits, President of Latvia, said “today, we learn that partial mobilization has been declared in Russia, as their once-mighty army is overwhelmed,” — citing the defence mounted by Ukraine and calling the “blitzkrieg” envisaged President Vladimir Putin “a long nightmare”.  He further warned against Moscow’s plans to hold illegal referenda in the coming days on the annexation of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk to the Russian Federation.  Latvia will not recognize the legitimacy of these referenda, he asserted, calling for the establishment of a special tribunal, whose main task would be to investigate the responsibility of the Russian Federation in the crime of aggression.

This war is about erasing the sovereign State from the map and extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist, cautioned United States President Joseph R. Biden.  Just before the invasion, President Putin asserted that Ukraine was “created by the Russian Federation” and never had “real statehood”.  Furthermore, the Russian Federation is pumping out lies trying to pin the blame for the food crisis on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine.  “Our sanctions explicitly allow Russia the ability to export food,” he stressed, adding only the Russian Federation can end food insecurity.

Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, reminded the Assembly that the work of “waging peace” is both difficult and only possible through interdependence.  According to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker, there are currently 27 ongoing conflicts worldwide, all of which are described as either “worsening” or “unchanging”.  Recalling Soviet tanks rolling on the streets in Budapest 11 years after the Second World War ended, she noted “ethnic Hungarians living across the borders also shed their blood” in Ukraine.  Hungary is implementing its largest humanitarian operation in recent history, providing economic, social and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as well as shelter to nearly 1 million refugees.  “A war only has victims,” she stressed.

However, Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, firmly rejected the claim that the conflict in Ukraine is the first conflict on European soil after the Second World War.  That the territorial integrity of Serbia, which did not attack any other sovereign country, was violated is constantly unspoken.  He asked for “a clear answer to the question I’ve been asking my interlocutors, leaders of many countries for years — what is the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia?”  Serbia has not stepped on someone else’s territory — yet that did not prevent NATO from attacking without the Council’s decision, nor did it prevent many Western countries from unilateral recognition of the independence of the so-called “Kosovo”.  “We shall keep advocating for the consistent observance of the principle of inviolability of borders, respect for sovereignty and integrity of all other UN Member States,” he stated.

Also rebutting the narrative, Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran, stressed events in Europe offer a “mirror image” of what has been happening in Western Asia for the past few decades — as his country has been faced with coup d’état attempts, oppressive sanctions and hegemonic interventions.  Turning to nuclear weapons, he highlighted that while only 2 per cent of world nuclear activities are taking place in Iran, it has been subject to 35 per cent of nuclear inspections.  Calling sanctions “a weapon of mass destruction”, he said the United States left the agreement, not Tehran, and “the knot of the nuclear deal must be opened from the same place they managed to tie this knot together”.

Through a different lens, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, stressed that the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, besides causing dismay in Europe, is a war “we are feeling directly in our lives in Africa.  Every bullet, every bomb, every shell that hits a target in Ukraine, hits our pockets and our economies in Africa”.  As inflation reaches records worldwide, Ghana is experiencing the highest rate for 21 years, with high food prices hurting the poor, especially in urban areas the most.  “It has become clear, if ever there was any doubt, that the international financial structure is skewed significantly against developing and emerging economies like Ghana,” he said, adding that the avenues opened to powerful nations enabling them to take steps to ease economic pressures are closed to small nations.

Similarly, Alassane Ouattara, President of Côte D’Ivoire, expressed regret that only 17 per cent of wheat exported from Ukraine since the July agreement has been earmarked for African countries.  He again requested that priority be given to them.   He further emphasized missions in Africa including the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) — as the fight against terrorism continues.  With the Assembly session being held as the energy crisis following the war means certain industrialized countries are increasing the use of carbon-based fuels, he stressed developed countries must drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and honour their commitments to mobilize $100 billion per year for developing States.

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