March 31, 2023

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — It was the only video speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and it came from someone with an official excuse: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

After a remote version in 2020 and a hybrid session last year, the summit returned entirely to UN headquarters in New York this year, with member states voting overwhelmingly. Last week, the head of state of the war-torn country gave permission to speak.

But there were a few holdouts. In his speech Wednesday, Zelensky didn’t let them off the hook.

“I want to thank the 101 countries that voted for my video address. It wasn’t just a vote on format. It was a vote on policy. Only seven countries voted against: Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria,” Zelensky said. “Seven. Seven people are afraid of the video address. Seven who responded to the policy with a red button. Only seven. One hundred and one – and seven.”

Also 19 abstained.

Zelensky’s wife, Olena Zelenska, was seated in the General Assembly Hall during his speech. and the Russian delegation. The latter sat through the speech, opting against a walkout—an authorized form of protest. Zelensky’s speech was received with standing ovations from several delegations.


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