United Nations — Speaking English with 193-castesUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a pre-recorded message to a standing ovation, barring the Russian delegation and a handful of other countries, to a hall packed with world leaders and his own wife, First Lady Olena Zelenska.
Zelensky could not go to the UN headquarters in New York City because. just hours ago, Russian forces launch an offensive against Ukraine, and begin preparations for a referendum to formalize the annexation of parts of Ukraine. The United States and the European Union consider the referendum a fraud.
Earlier this year, the United Nations decided that a leader must be at headquarters to speak this year. But, the General Assembly voted 101-7 for an exception for Zelensky. Members voting against him were Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria.
“This was not just a vote on format. This was a vote on policy,” Zelensky said in his Wednesday speech. “Seven people who are afraid of video addresses. Seven people who respond to policy with a red button. Only seven people. One hundred and one – and seven.”
Ukraine’s president went into detail about atrocities committed against the country’s civilians and called on the United Nations to hold Russia accountable for alleged crimes. He said a family — a father, mother, a 6-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl and their grandparents — had been killed in a Russian airstrike, and he indicated.
Zelensky said the UN should recognize Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.
“After the Russian missile terror. After the genocide. After Mariupol,” he said. “After the Russian military burned Ukrainian prisoners at Olenivka. After the blockade of ports. After Russian tank and missile attacks on nuclear power plants. And after threats to use nuclear weapons, which have become the rule, not the exception, for Russian propagandists…”
Zelensky outlined a plan with five “preconditions” for peace with Russia: punishment for aggression; protection of life; restoration of security and territorial integrity; Security Guarantees; and determination to protect oneself. He called on the United Nations to set up a special tribunal “to punish Russia for crimes of aggression against our state.”
“All these ‘will’ become signals to the aggressors that they must pay the price of peace or be held accountable by the world,” he said.
Citing the UN Charter, asZelensky wanted more military and financial support.
He said, we did not instigate this war. “We have had 88 talks in different formats to prevent this war, from the beginning of my presidency until February 24 of this year.”
But unable to find a way forward, Russia, he said, launched a “full-scale” aggression.
“Russia wants war. That’s true. But Russia cannot stop the course of history. Humanity and international law are stronger than a terrorist state,” he said. “Russia will be forced to end this war. The war that has started.”