United Nations Stands with People of Ukraine, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly, Stressing ‘Enough Is Enough’, Fighting Must Stop, as Emergency Session Gets Under Way
Future of Rules-Based World Order at Risk, Several Delegates Warn; Speakers for Kyiv, Moscow Both Say They Are Exercising Right to Self-Defence
The United Nations stands with the people of Ukraine, including more than 500,000 who crossed the country’s borders fleeing relentless attacks by Russian forces, Secretary-General António Guterres told an emergency special session of the General Assembly today, warning of potentially dire consequences for the world at large.
Dozens of delegates from among the Assembly’s 193 Member States took part in the historic session, which is just the eleventh such meeting in the United Nations 77-year history. Many speakers warned that, amid the first full-scale international aggression in Europe since the end of the Second World War, the very future of the rules-based world order now hangs in the balance.
[Today’s special session was mandated by a 27 February vote in the Security Council, following its failure to adopt a resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s recent actions in Ukraine. See Press Releases SC/14808 and SC/14809 for details.]
“Enough is enough,” said Mr. Guterres, adding: “The fighting in Ukraine must stop now.” Noting that bombardments by the Russian Federation have been pounding the country day and night, he said the capital, Kyiv, now finds itself surrounded. Ukrainians have been forced to shelter in subway stations and more than half a million have fled across the country’s borders. Citing credible accounts of serious damage sustained by residential buildings and other non-military infrastructure, he described the attacks as unacceptable and stressed that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected.
Warning of potentially dire repercussions for the region and the entire world, he went on to note that the United Nations has assured Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that it will not abandon his country during its time of need. The Organization is already providing humanitarian assistance to some 3 million people on both sides of the contact line. “We are fully committed to staying and delivering,” he said, calling on all sides to uphold their obligations to allow safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian aid and on the world’s nations to mobilize support. “Humanity cannot afford to be locked in a mindset that dredges up the worst of the last century,” he stressed.
Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, echoed those sentiments, calling on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and return to diplomacy and dialogue. Noting that a rare window of opportunity for dialogue has opened — with representatives of Moscow and Kyiv meeting today for the first time since fighting erupted — he urged the sides to seize that chance and rapidly de-escalate the situation. For its part, the General Assembly and its members continue to represent the collective conscience of humanity, and its strength is rooted in its moral authority. “Let’s demonstrate that moral courage and use today’s debate not to whip up war rhetoric, but to give peace a chance,” he stressed.
Throughout the debate, many delegates voiced their views on a draft resolution to be taken up by the Assembly later this week, which is similar to the text which was vetoed by the Russian Federation in the Security Council. Should the resolution pass by a majority vote, it is widely expected to condemn the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine.
Ukraine’s representative, taking the floor first, thanked the Secretary-General for his strong stance in support of peace and the United Nations Charter. He noted that, just this morning, the Russian army launched a major attack on the residential areas of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Many residential buildings have been destroyed and kindergartens and medical facilities have been struck. While Ukraine has activated its right to self-defence in line with the Charter, he urged the Assembly to demand an end to all acts of aggression against a sovereign and independent State. Indeed, should the United Nations fail to respond to the crisis, it will face much more than criticism — it will face oblivion. “If Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not survive,” he stressed.
The representative of the Russian Federation, rebuking those comments, said the root of the current crisis lies instead with Ukraine itself. Kyiv flouted the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, failed to engage in dialogue with the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and turned a blind eye to the people of Donbas. Against that backdrop, President Vladimir Putin decided to react. “There is a need to de-Nazify Ukraine,” he stressed, adding that his country is exercising its right to self-defence from Ukraine, which strives to obtain nuclear weapons, seeks North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership and is making false territorial claims against the Russian Federation.
The representative of France declared that abstaining in the Assembly’s upcoming vote is “not an option”. In taking up that text, the Assembly has a historic responsibility to call for an end to war and for the Russian Federation to remove its troops from Ukraine, he said, calling on all Member States to vote in favour of the proposed draft. Emphasizing that no country can or should avert their gaze from the armed aggression and those who are seeking refuge, he went on to note that the Assembly’s special session does not imply that the Security Council has renounced its responsibilities. In fact, the 15-member Council will meet this afternoon to take up a draft resolution on the humanitarian impacts of the crisis.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, condemned in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces. Also condemning the involvement of Belarus in that aggression, he declared: “Russia bears full responsibility for this aggression and the resulting destruction and loss of life.” Moscow must immediately cease its military operations and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from Ukraine, while engaging in earnest in dialogue with a view to a diplomatic solution. “The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the twenty-first century,” he added.
Poland’s delegate, expressing his support for the resolution to be tabled in the Assembly, said the global community is facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in Europe since the Second World War. Noting that Poland’s borders are open to those fleeing Moscow’s aggression in neighbouring Ukraine, he said it has already welcomed people from 125 nationalities. Noting the outpouring of spontaneous readiness to help by individuals in Poland, he said a dedicated website was set up for volunteers to register. “Poland may not be a geopolitical super-Power, but we want to be a solidarity super-Power,” he said, also paying tribute to the Ukrainians defending their motherland and standing for their country’s freedom.
The representative of Brazil declared: “This is a defining moment for our Organization and for the world.” Noting that his country voted in favour of the resolution before the Security Council and regretting that it was not adopted, he noted that, in recent years, the world has seen a deterioration of security and the balance of power in Eeastern Europe, which paved the way for the current crisis. However, that in no way justifies the use of force against a sovereign Member State. Urging an end to belligerent acts before it is too late, he also called upon all actors to reassess their decisions concerning the supply of weapons and the application of sanctions, particularly those which could affect the global economy in such critical areas as food security.
In similarly nuanced remarks, the representative of China said the situation in Ukraine is rapidly evolving to a point which his country “does not wish to see and which is not in the interest of any party”. Calling on all sides to exercise restraint and step up diplomatic efforts, he rejected any approach that might exacerbate tensions. “The cold war has long ended, and […] nothing can be gained from stirring up a new cold war,” he said, warning that one country’s security must not come at the expense of another’s and cautioning against the expansion of any military blocs.
Bolivia’s representative, striking a similar tone, said responsibility for the current crisis rests not only on the shoulders of the Russian Federation but also on those of Western Powers who jeopardized peace and security through the expansion of NATO. Rejecting all wars of aggression, he spotlighted invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine and, today, Ukraine. Recalling the bombing of Yugoslavia which occurred without the authorization of the Council, he condemned the moral double standards shown by certain Powers which are fanning the flames of confrontation, rather than seeking peace.
Singapore’s representative emphasized that it is particularly crucial for small countries, such as his, to “send a clear signal that we are united to uphold international law”. Indeed, the Russian Federation’s unprovoked invasion violates the United Nations Charter and presents an existential issue for a tiny nation like Singapore, he said, adding that a world in which “might makes right” would jeopardize the sovereignty of small nations. Member States must act swiftly and with great purpose, he said, recalling that “the world is watching” the Assembly’s historic special session.
At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the provisional agenda of its eleventh emergency special session (document A/ES-11/2). It decided that the Credentials Committee of its eleventh emergency special session would have the same membership as that of the Assembly’s seventy-sixth regular session, namely the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, China, Namibia, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Sweden and the United States. In light of the urgency of the session, it further decided to accept the credentials approved for the seventy-sixth regular session for the purposes of the eleventh emergency special session.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries), United Kingdom, Georgia, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, New Zealand, Panama (on behalf of the Alliance for Development in Democracy), Bulgaria, Italy, Canada, Uruguay, Slovakia, Belgium, Netherlands, Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum), Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Croatia, Turkey, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Kenya, Barbados, Maldives, Costa Rica, Greece, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Albania, Syria, India and Chile.
The General Assembly will reconvene Tuesday, 1 March, at 10 a.m. to continue its emergency special session.
ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, emphasizing that the military offensive by the Russian Federation is a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and is inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, renewed the call for an immediate ceasefire, for all parties to exercise maximum restraint and for a full return to diplomacy and dialogue. Convening of this eleventh emergency special session, rooted in the Charter and resolution 377A(V), “Uniting for peace”, is a new opportunity to ensure that the leadership of the United Nations meets the expectation of the people it serves on matters related to peace and security. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s announcement that $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund will be allocated to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, he said security and access for humanitarian efforts must be guaranteed. The ongoing military offensive is inconsistent with the Charter, drafted so soon after the Second World War and based on the principle of sovereign equality to outline a world where Member States settle their international disputes by peaceful means, without the threat or use of force.
“Let us remind ourselves that we founded the United Nations to maintain international peace and security,” he continued. To that end, he said Member States must take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations. Recalling a rare window of opportunity opened on 27 February for dialogue, he said this chance must be used to meaningfully and rapidly de-escalate the situation. The General Assembly with its 193 Member States represents the collective conscience of humanity, and its strength is rooted in its moral authority. In this vein, he said: “Let’s demonstrate that moral courage and use today’s debate not to whip up war rhetoric, but to give peace a chance; let’s ignite the fire of love, humanity and compassion. Guns are better off when knotted. Let peace prevail.”
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared that the “the fighting in Ukraine must stop now”. Bombardments by the Russian Federation have been pounding the country day and night, and the capital, Kyiv, is now surrounded on all sides. Emphasizing that ordinary Ukrainians have been forced to shelter in subway stations and more than 500,000 have fled across the country’s borders, he also cited credible accounts of serious damage sustained by residential buildings and other non-military infrastructure. “Enough is enough,” he stressed, describing those attacks against Ukraine as unacceptable. Civilians must be protected and international law upheld, and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders must be respected.
Warning of potentially dire consequences for the wider region and the entire world, he recalled that on 27 February the Russian Federation put the country’s nuclear forces on high alert. Welcoming the generosity of Ukraine’s neighbours, he recalled that during a recent call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy he reassured him that the United Nations will not abandon Ukraine during its time of need. The Organization is already providing humanitarian assistance to some 3 million people on both sides of the contact line. “We are fully committed to staying and delivering,” he said, noting that operations are expanding to quickly get help to those who need it. Among other things, he has allocated $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund and appointed Amin Awad as Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine. On 1 March, the United Nations will launch two coordinated humanitarian appeals, one addressing the needs inside Ukraine, and the other seeking to support those crossing the country’s borders.
Calling on all sides to uphold their obligations to facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance, he urged all Member States to mobilize in support of the humanitarian appeals to help those in and outside Ukraine “whose numbers will only grow” given the magnitude of the crisis. However, while aid is critical, the only true solution to the crisis is peace. The attack on Ukraine challenges international law and the global rules-based order, he said, spotlighting the possible widespread economic implications of the crisis. “The guns are talking now, but the path of dialogue must always remain open,” he said, expressing hope that the current talks taking place between the two sides will end the fighting and pave a path to lasting peace. Describing war as a distraction from the real crises facing humanity today, he stressed: “Humanity cannot afford to be locked in a mindset that dredges up the worst of the last century.”
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said that, for the first time since the birth of the United Nations, there is a full-fledged war in the heart of Europe. “Everyone in this hall, and everyone in the world, knows that Russia and Russia alone started this invasion,” he said. Speaking in Russian, he read from a series of mobile phone text messages between a Russian soldier and his mother, moments before he was killed. That death toll is only rising, he said, stressing that a large global Power — seeking military greatness — has launched a full-scale attack on its smaller neighbour. “Does this remind you of something?”, he asked, spotlighting direct parallels between the current situation and the beginning of the Second World War. Just this morning, the Russian army launched a major attack on the residential areas of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Thanking the Secretary-General for his strong stance in support of peace and the United Nations Charter, he said Ukraine was forced to call for today’s emergency special session given the extraordinary circumstances it faces, and following the defeat of an important draft resolution in the Security Council last week. “We do not accept the Russian logic that the Council was unable to act due to one-sided rhetoric,” he said. Today, Moscow’s missiles are aimed at critical infrastructure near Kyiv, including bridges, airports and water reservoirs. Many residential buildings have been destroyed and kindergartens and medical facilities have been struck. Noting that Russian forces have also seized the Chernobyl nuclear power facility, with radiation levels increasing significantly, he emphasized that Ukraine has activated its right to self-defence in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
In response to all those actions, he said, the General Assembly should be vocal in demanding an end to all acts of aggression against a sovereign and independent State. Those demands must include a full and immediate withdrawal of Russian forces, a reversal of the Russian Federation’s decision regarding the status of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, and the recognition of the treacherous role played by Belarus in supporting those actions. “What is happening now in Ukraine has already had humanitarian and security implications for all of you,” he said, citing impacts on food systems, energy supplies and financial markets.
He warned that, should the United Nations fail to respond to the crisis, it will face much more than criticism — it will face oblivion. As his country continues to pay the ultimate price for freedom, he stressed: “If Ukraine does not survive, international peace will not survive.” The fate of the United Nations is also at stake. Concluding, he posited that while the Russian Federation has done everything possible to legitimize its presence at the United Nations, its membership is not legitimate, as the General Assembly never voted on its admission to the Organization following the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the root of the crisis lies in Ukraine itself, which flouted the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, failed to engage in dialogue with Donetsk and Luhansk and denied recognizing them. In February, provocation continued against the people of Donbas, which requested assistance from Moscow at a time when a flood of refugees were entering the Russian Federation as Western partners turned an uncompassionate blind eye. As such, President Putin decided to react, in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, with the goal being to protect those people who had suffered torment and genocide, he said, adding that: “There is a need to de-Nazify Ukraine.” Indeed, the issue of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States feature in accusations against the Russian Federation, but these principles must apply to States that conduct themselves in line with existing norms, which Ukraine has not. His delegation is exercising its right to self-defence from Ukraine, which strives to obtain nuclear weapons, seeks North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership and is making territorial claims against the Russian Federation, which is protecting itself from a nationalist threat. Instead of compelling Kyiv to comply with its obligations, the West is repeating the senseless mantra that the Minsk agreements are not being implemented by the Russian Federation, which is not even part of those instruments.
The Western countries have “created a bubble that cannot but pop”, he said, noting the warnings issued in 2008 that members of NATO should think “three times” before allowing Ukraine and Georgia to join its alliance. Yet, in 2014, a brutal anti-constitutional coup in Kyiv saw nationalists and radicals seizing power to create an anti-Russian policy and a push to join NATO. Emphasizing that “for Ukraine to join NATO is a red line”, he said these actions compelled the Russian Federation to adopt measures in response. Recently, Moscow had proposed that agreements would be made between the United States and NATO, but this was rebuffed with counter-offers to discuss secondary issues. The United Nations can help to bring stakeholders together to address the situation. However, lacking any attempts to date to calmly discuss this issue, the Russian Federation voted against the draft Security Council resolution on 25 February, which was an anti-Russian and anti-Ukraine attempt to salvage and cement Kyiv authorities who have brought the country to the brink of tragedy. The Russian Federation also vetoed the draft due to issues unaddressed in its provisions: how the 2014 coup resulted with the Maidan junta raining bombs on the people of Donetsk and Luhansk, with the blessing of Western partners; how death squads and neo-Nazis shelled women and children in Donbas for eight years; and how protestors were burned alive, shot by snipers flaunting their presence.
The root of the conflict lies at the feet of the Ukraine authorities and the Western countries supporting them, he said. Right now lies are being spread across media outlets, including that the Russian Federation is shelling civilians. Nationalists, however, are deploying heavy equipment and operating in civilian areas — tactics used by terrorists that must be condemned. For eight years, a human rights body has reported how the neo-Nazis were born and are being maintained in Ukraine, with condemned criminals and convicts carrying out grave crimes, 25,000 machine guns being distributed without documentation, and with parties being tasked with slaughtering communities. On social networks, an information war has been unleashed, he said, citing 1.2 million pieces of fake news, including the correspondence just recited by his counterpart from Ukraine. To disregard the concerns of the Russian Federation runs counter to international principles. The Russian Federation did not begin these hostilities, which were unleashed by Ukraine, he said, adding that “Russia is seeking to end this war.”
OLOF SKOOG, Head of the European Union delegation, in its capacity as observer, condemned in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces in violation of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The bloc also condemns the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine and calls on the Russian Federation and Belarus to abide by their international obligations. Alarmed by the Russian Federation’s raising of the nuclear alert level, he called on that country to de-escalate, immediately return to the previous alert level of its nuclear arsenal and avoid any actions that could risk the safety or security of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine, a non-nuclear weapon State under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Russia bears full responsibility for this aggression and the resulting destruction and loss of life,” he said, demanding that it cease its military operations immediately and unconditionally and withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. He also called on the Russian Federation to engage in earnest in dialogue with a view to a political and diplomatic solution.
The Russian Federation’s actions grossly violate international law and clearly breach the United Nations Charter and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Helsinki Final Act, as well as the Russian Federation’s specific commitments to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, he said. “This is arguably the biggest aggression in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” he said, adding that it follows similar Russian aggression against its neighbours in 2008 and 2014. Failure by the Assembly to immediately and effectively acknowledge and address the Russian Federation’s actions would erode trust in the rules-based global order. “The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the twenty-first century,” he said, stressing that tensions and conflict should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. The European Union and like-minded partners have been united in making unprecedented efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. The bloc will continue to do its utmost to protect the integrity of the rules-based international system, he said, calling on all United Nations Member States to do the same.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic Eight, said the Russian Federation counted on the world to remain silent, but “we are acting, and on this day — and until peace prevails and every Ukrainian can safely return to their homes — we stand with Ukraine.” If unanswered, the Russian aggression against Ukraine will have global and long-term negative consequences, challenging the rules-based international order, he said, adding that: “We will continue to look at every single instrument in our toolbox”. Sanctions have been enacted to cripple President Putin’s ability to finance his war machine, with the role of the Lukashenko regime in Belarus in enabling the attack also demanding a firm response. Nordic-Baltic countries have been delivering financial, humanitarian and military assistance to the people of Ukraine, and every nation must look at how to further their support. Calling on the Russian Federation to stop this senseless war, he demanded an immediate ceasefire, urging Moscow to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine and return genuinely to the path of dialogue and negotiation. Every civilian death and every war crime will be recorded and perpetrators will be held accountable and brought to justice, he said, noting Ukraine’s request to the International Court of Justice and adding: “History has its eyes on us; every legal avenue available will be used to hold the aggressor to account.”
The matter is now in the hands of the General Assembly, he said, where one veto cannot overrule the United Nations membership and where the power and legitimacy are manifested in numbers. The Russian Federation’s shameful use of the veto in the Security Council on 25 February on a matter it bears full responsibility for is completely unacceptable, and its status as a permanent Council member gives it a special responsibility of maintaining peace and security, not to violate Charter principles. The latest Council meetings showed the need for reform and demonstrated who had the firmness and valour to defend the United Nations Charter. The General Assembly has the power to send a firm message to President Putin, he said, emphasizing that: “What we say today and how we vote on the resolution presented will make a difference on the ground in Ukraine and to the Ukrainian people; they will be watching us.” The Russian Federation’s unlawful and brutal armed attack on Ukraine will affect and impact everyone. “If we do not join our forces to turn back this tide today, we will be even less equipped to deal with similar crimes in the future — wherever, on whichever continent they occur”, he said, adding that the world will hold accountable the Russian Federation, as the main aggressor, and Belarus, as the enabler.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), condemning the ongoing violence, said the Russian Federation’s acts of aggression violate Charter principles and it flouted its responsibility as a Security Council member when it vetoed a resolution co-sponsored by 82 Member States. The General Assembly has a historic responsibility to call for an end to war and for the Russian Federation to remove its troops from Ukraine. France supports the efforts to draft a resolution demanding the Russian Federation respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He called on all Member States to vote in favour of the proposed draft. No one can or should avert their gaze from the armed aggression and those who are seeking refuge. Abstaining from the vote is “not an option”, he said, calling on the United Nations membership to support the draft resolution. Convening this emergency session does not mean that the Security Council renounces its responsibilities, he said, noting that the 15-member Council will meet this afternoon on the situation in Ukraine, at which France and Mexico will table a draft resolution to guarantee the safe and unhindered access to those in need in Ukraine. Noting the European Union’s €90 million humanitarian aid package, he said France has taken steps to mobilize an international response to the Russian Federation’s aggression, has imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation and will offer defence equipment to Ukraine.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) recalled that on 25 February 81 Member States supported a Security Council resolution to stop the war in Ukraine. Moscow was completely isolated in rejecting that text. The facts are clear: “Russia has invaded Ukraine without provocation and without justification.” Brave men and women are withstanding the barrage of attacks and fighting for Ukraine’s future as a free and independent nation. However, the humanitarian consequences are already immense, she said, citing fresh news today of shelling in residential areas of Kharkiv and noting that some 7 million Ukrainians have been displaced. Describing the international response to the Russian Federation’s aggression as united and swift, she warned: “If we do not stand up for them now, the safety of every nation’s borders and independence are at risk.” In that context, she voiced the United Kingdom’s unequivocal support for Ukraine and called on President Vladimir Putin to end the senseless war, urging all Member States to speak up for Ukraine and defend the United Nations Charter.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, said the Assembly has gathered in an emergency session because the Council once again failed to act as a guardian of peace and security. It is up to the Assembly to stand up and make certain the United Nations delivers on the purpose for which it was created. The use of armed force by a Member State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another Member State violates Article 2(4) of the Charter and constitutes an act of aggression, as defined by Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX), adopted by consensus. “Russia’s full-scale military aggression against Georgia should have served as a wake-up call for all,” he said. Georgia knows the toll of war and its disastrous consequences. It is devastating not only for those who live through it, but passes down to generations. The core principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe and the commitments taken under the Budapest Memorandum are non-negotiable nor subject to revision by any country no matter how large and powerful it may be. Territorial acquisition through use of force, or a threat to do so, is illegal and impermissible. He called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its military activities, withdraw all its forces and armaments from Ukraine, and reverse its decisions related to the status of integral parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea. Moreover, the Russian Federation should do the same in Georgia: withdraw forces, allow humanitarian access and reverse the status-related decision with regards to the occupied territories there.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) fully agreed with the text of the resolution to be tabled by Ukraine and called on all Member States to stand firmly behind it as it will demonstrate the Assembly’s adherence to the principles enshrined in the Charter. To achieve peace, Poland, as the current OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office, called on Sunday for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine to let humanitarian organizations deliver assistance. There is no doubt that the international community is confronted with one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Europe since the Second World War. In the first three days of the Russian aggression, facilitated by the complicity of the Belarussian regime of Aleksandr Lukashenko, nearly 500,000 people left Ukraine and 300,000 found refuge in Poland. “Poland keeps its borders open,” he said, adding: “The nationals of all countries who suffered from Russian aggression, or whose life is at risk, can seek shelter in Poland.” Today alone, it has already welcomed people from 125 nationalities, including 100 Russians, he said, dismissing as a “complete lie and terrible insult” reports of discriminatory practices at the Ukraine-Poland border based on race or religion.
In addition to providing refuge, Poland gives those who suffer very practical and tangible help, he said, noting the birth of the first Ukrainian refugee babies in Poland and that 7,000 hospital beds in 20 hospitals are ready for Ukraine’s wounded. Poland is ready to cooperate closely with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and any other humanitarian organizations to ease the burden on civilians targeted by Russian aggression. Noting the outpouring of spontaneous readiness to help by individuals in Poland, he said a “Helping Ukraine” website was set up for volunteers to register. “Poland may not be a geopolitical super-Power, but we want to be a solidarity super-Power,” he said, also paying tribute to the Ukrainians defending their motherland and standing for their country’s freedom.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said he cannot remain silent in the face of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. Noting that such questions as the one being discussed today should be addressed by the Security Council — which also cannot remain silent when the United Nations Charter is trampled by military boots — he asked whether the system of veto power is still fit to oversee matters of peace and security. It is now the Assembly’s obligation to take up a resolution condemning Moscow’s aggression. “By voting yes, we show the world that the United Nations is still able to take up its responsibility to defend the rule of law,” and show the Ukrainian people that they are not alone. Noting that an attack on one Member State is an attack on all, he said that if a country with one of the world’s largest arsenals still feels insecure, it should pursue diplomacy and disarmament, not attacks on neighbours. He also cautioned against “what-about-ism”, stressing that misdeeds today cannot be justified by pointing to the past faults of others.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union, urged the Russian Federation to immediately stop its military actions and to unconditionally withdraw its forces and military equipment from the territory of Ukraine. The Assembly is meeting today after a permanent member of the Security Council started a war of aggression against a fellow Member State, in flagrant violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. Echoing concern about horrific humanitarian reports coming out of Ukraine, he declared: “Let me make it crystal clear — Russia and its people are under no threat from Ukraine or NATO.” The Russian Federation’s veto in the Security Council on 25 February is yet more proof of its blatant disrespect for the United Nations. Noting that the Czech Republic stands firmly with the Ukrainian people and will vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Assembly, he urged others to do the same, declaring: “Vote with your conscience […] let us not forget that the whole world is watching.”
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) recalled that veto of the Russian Federation — a permanent Council member — of Friday’s draft resolution runs counter to Article 27 of the Charter and that, as a party to the conflict, that country should have abstained from voting. Expressing support for the Assembly’s draft resolution, she called on all Member States to do the same. The Russian Federation’s attempts to legitimize its action are not credible; there was no provocation to justify such an attack. Calling on the Russian Federation, like all nuclear-weapon States, to refrain from any threat to use these weapons, or even from using them, she noted that the Russian Federation has just joined a declaration of the five permanent Council members, which reaffirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Calling on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights, she condemned all violations, including in cyberspace. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s offer of good offices, diplomatic efforts of the Member States and news that the parties to the conflict have met today for initial negotiations, she said: “This conflict — like all conflicts — can only be solved through dialogue.”
CAROLYN JANE WEATHERALL SCHWALGER (New Zealand), voicing support for the Secretary-General’s assessment that Moscow’s decision to recognize the “independent republics” violates Charter principles, said: “We cannot pick and choose when to espouse the centrality of the Charter.” This emergency special session is a direct result of the Russian Federation’s actions and because its disgraceful veto had prevented the Council from condemning those acts. “There is no place for the veto in the Security Council,” she said, noting that New Zealand, with a group of small States, has long opposed the granting of this power to the permanent Council members. New Zealand strongly supports international efforts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis diplomatically, she said, adding: “We, the international community, must act now to prevent further pointless loss of innocent life and to support those who now find themselves displaced through no fault of their own.” New Zealand is supporting humanitarian aid efforts and has joined others in implementing sanctions. She called on Moscow to act consistently with its international obligations, cease military operations, permanently withdraw, take all possible steps to protect civilians and return to diplomatic negotiations as a pathway to resolve the conflict.
MARKOVA CONCEPCIÓN JARAMILLO (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Development in Democracy, called for negotiations on the basis of shared respect for the Charter and international law and condemned the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. The Alliance respects the Secretary-General’s call for a cessation in hostilities and calls for moderation and reason and for international rights and humanitarian law to be respected, she said. All efforts should be made to provide rapid and unhindered access to all those in need. The serious situation is a challenge to the complex global crisis created by the pandemic. The Alliance has made joint efforts to ensure the safe transit of its nationals across the Ukraine border. Dialogue and negotiation, accompanied by respect for the Charter and Assembly resolutions, are the only guarantee for a lasting solution to the conflict affecting Eastern Europe, she said calling on all parties to return to diplomatic dialogue.
ZHANG JUN (China) said the situation in Ukraine is rapidly evolving to a point which his country “does not wish to see and which is not in the interest of any party”. Calling on all sides to exercise restraint and step up diplomatic efforts, he said Ukraine should serve as a bridge of communication between East and West instead of as a frontline for geopolitical rivalries. Rejecting any approach that might further exacerbate tensions and voicing support for continued humanitarian efforts, he stressed that civilian life and property must be guaranteed. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China is unequivocal that all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity must be upheld. “The cold war has long ended, and […] nothing can be gained from stirring up a new cold war,” he said, warning that one country’s security must not come at the expense of another’s and cautioning against the expansion of any military blocs.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), aligning himself with the European Union, said the Assembly has gathered under extraordinary circumstances that defy reason but unfortunately are reality — that the Russian Federation, a permanent Council member, is executing an act of aggression against Ukraine, a founding United Nations member. Condemning in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, he said it not only undermines global security and stability but also puts the international rules-based order in jeopardy. “It is deplorable that the Russian Federation used its veto power to prevent the Security Council from exercising its primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security,” he said. Yet the Council’s decision to urgently refer the matter to the Assembly demonstrates the resolve of the other Council members to do everything possible to address this serious act of aggression. The fact that the Council has taken this decision, for the first time in 40 years, speaks of the situation’s gravity.
He demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its military actions, unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from all of Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. “The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the twenty-first century,” he said, also strongly condemning the involvement of Belarus, including by providing its territory to be used as a launching ground for the Russian aggression. Belarus must refrain from such action and abide by its international obligations. Likewise, indiscriminate acts against the civilian population in Ukraine are unacceptable and must stop immediately. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to a blatant act of aggression against a sovereign, peace-loving nation, he said, adding: “Today it is against Ukraine.”
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, said the Assembly has the responsibility to make its voice heard in the face of the current grave threat to international peace and security. Italy has made its position in support of the Ukrainian people, and against the blatant aggression being committed by the Russian Federation, clear. Also condemning the role being played by Belarus, he said the European Union has implemented strong measures against both Moscow and Minsk, and urged the Russian Federation to abide by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Minsk agreements package. “Russia’s actions are causing enormous human suffering and triggering a humanitarian disaster,” he warned, demanding safe and unhindered humanitarian access. He also noted that Italy is scaling up its support for Ukraine’s military capacity through a contribution of 110 million euros, as well as the provision of credit and grants.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) declared: “This is a defining moment for our Organization and for the world.” Noting that his country voted in favour of the resolution before the Security Council and regretting that it was not adopted, he said the urgency of the situation then convinced his delegation of the need to add the General Assembly’s voice to the conversation. “This is the moment for the principal organs of the Organization to work together […] to save us from the scourge of war.” Over recent years, the world has seen a deterioration of security and the balance of power in Eastern Europe, which paved the way for the current crisis. However, that “in no way justifies the use of force against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of any Member State”. Urging an end to belligerent acts before it is too late, he also called upon all actors to reassess their decisions concerning the supply of weapons and the application of sanctions, particularly those which could affect the global economy in such critical areas as food security.
ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) said Moscow has unleashed a war of aggression fuelled by President Putin’s desire to restore colonialism. The Russian Federation illegitimately used its veto power in the Council and is threatening to use nuclear weapons, flagrantly violating the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races made in January. Through today’s draft, Member States have a chance to stand up and rebuke the evil notion that might makes right, he said, calling on all to support it. There must be accountability, he said, raising deep concerns about Belarus over Charter violations, aiding the Russian Federation’s invasion, sending forces into Ukraine and revoking its non-nuclear weapon State status. Speaking to the Ukrainian people, he said Canada stands ready to assist in defending their country and to hold parties accountable. To the people of the Russian Federation who are opposed to the war, he said: “Canada and the world see you.” President Putin has sorely miscalculated and severely misjudged the resolve of the world to stand against him, he said, adding that: “We say, together: President Putin, stop the war. Stop it before there is more death. Stop the use of threats. Take your finger away from the nuclear button. Come to grips with the reality of our time.” It is never too late to make a turn to diplomacy, dialogue and negotiation. The alternative cannot happen, he said, emphasizing that: “It now falls to all of us […] to stand up for the principles of the Charter and to heal the hurt and pain that has been caused by this terrible war of aggression; this responsibility belongs to us, and we must seize this moment of accountability, democracy and justice, together.”
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), welcoming the convening of this session for allowing even small States to raise concerns, said the Russian Federation’s unprovoked invasion violates the Charter and presents an existential issue for a tiny nation like his country. A world order where might makes right would jeopardize small nations. Indeed, there is no justification for invading an independent State, especially based on such claims as “historical errors and crazy decisions”, he said, deploring the Russian Federation’s military operations across Ukraine. Noting with great sadness and regret the loss of innocent lives, he said the scale of humanitarian assistance is clear. The sovereignty of all States must be respected. Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s recent announcements and actions, he said: “The world is watching us as we meet in the General Assembly.” Member States must act swiftly and with great purpose, he said, adding that Singapore supports the draft and will always vote to uphold the Charter. This resolution is not about taking sides, but about upholding international law and the Charter. “The United Nations is being tested today,” he said, noting that all countries, especially small States, “must send a clear signal that we are united to uphold international law.”
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay), condemning the invasion, said Member States have the responsibility to protect peace and security. It is unacceptable that Ukraine and its rights are being assaulted. The recognition of the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk and the Russian Federation’s deployment of troops violate global order and these acts must be denounced and condemned by the international community. The peaceful settlement of disputes is a guiding thread in Uruguay’s policies, he said, urging parties to resolve differences peacefully in a manner that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, principles that underpin international law. The occupation of territories by force runs counter to international law, he said, urging the Russian Federation to withdraw all troops from Ukrainian territory and calling on the parties to negotiate and ensure peace.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the Russian Federation cannot veto the truth. The Russian Federation’s à la carte application of the Charter makes it seem that it uses the instrument as a napkin after the main course. Condemning President Putin’s announcement of putting nuclear weapons on alert, he said such threats do not belong in the twenty-first century but in the dustbins of history. Recalling the 1968 incident when Soviet tanks entered the former Czechoslovakia, he denounced current fake news, narratives and the distortion of history. Slovakia is in favour of very tough sanctions against the Russian Federation. Praising brave Russian citizens who have protested against the war, he said they show what basic moral principles mean. Slovakia remains committed to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbour, Ukraine, he said, calling for the withdrawal of all Russian troops, including in Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. The gross use of force will have consequences, he said, calling on the Russian Federation to ensure humanitarian access for those in need. Highlighting the many offers to refugees, he said Slovakia and its citizens will continue to provide aid and support to Ukraine.
PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium), calling on the Russian Federation and Belarus to end the violence and withdraw troops, said his delegation joins the international community in seeking a peaceful solution. Every day that passes sees more civilians fleeing, he said, calling on the parties to protect them, especially children, and provide safe and unimpeded humanitarian access. For its part, Belgium has contributed aid to Ukraine. Turning to the draft resolution being considered by the General Assembly, he said: “abstention is not a choice” when the international rules-based order is being threatened. As such, he called on all to support the draft resolution proposed today.
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), aligning herself with the European Union, offered unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and its democratic freedom. Strongly condemning the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, she said: “It is unprovoked and unjustified. Russia alone is responsible for this war.” She also condemned Belarus for facilitating an attack which, under international law, is also an act of aggression. The Russian Federation’s action affects all Member States and is an attack on the rules-based order that is the very foundation of security. The Charter was written precisely to prevent a military invasion like the one the Russian Federation is undertaking. The Russian veto prevented the Council from acting and the Assembly must now step in. Reports about civilian casualties and attacks against civilian infrastructure are deeply concerning and the perpetrators of these crimes are being watched, followed and will be identified. The evidence is being compiled with a view to their prosecution for crimes. Peace and stability will only be possible if the Russian Federation pulls back its military forces, fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and returns to the path of diplomacy, she said.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum, called for withdrawal of Russian armed forces and an end to the aggression, which violates the Charter. He also called on the Russian Federation to reverse its decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk. The world must now join to call for the peaceful settlement of the conflict, he said, adding that climate change and COVID-19 demonstrate the importance of a united front. In his national capacity, he said the current situation poses the question of whether the Charter applies in all its parts to all women, men and children in Ukraine. The Assembly’s Member States are the custodians of the United Nations Charter, which applies in full measure to all Ukrainians. He called on Member States to be united, resolute and firm in the resolve that the Charter applies to everyone in Ukraine, as it extends to all nations. Calling on the Russian Federation to cease hostilities, withdraw troops and protect humanitarian workers, he underlined the importance of taking steps towards peace. “This conflict will end through diplomacy alone,” he said. The world needs its diplomats and all its leaders to address climate change and can only do so once peace is restored in Ukraine.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) said the latest military attack on Ukraine is unacceptable, having put lives in grave danger and threatening regional and global peace and stability. All parties must pursue a peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy, he stressed, adding that respect for nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity must be upheld. Calling on all parties to ensure safe passage for humanitarian aid and for civilians seeking to flee the conflict, he emphasized that “conflict and tensions benefit no one”, in particular at a time when the world continues to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcome of the Assembly’s special session must contribute to an environment where dialogue and negotiation can take place, he stressed.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said it is vital that the Assembly address the act of aggression against Ukraine committed by those in positions of power in the Russian Federation. Liechtenstein stands in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine and pays the deepest respect to the personal leadership of their political leaders. “They are putting us all to shame by resisting with incredible bravery a brutal attack on their country, an unconscionable act of aggression, in direct violation of the Charter of the United Nations, an aggression as defined by this very Assembly in 1974 by consensus — in the middle of the cold war,” he said. Liechtenstein also expresses its solidarity with the Russian people, those who have taken to the streets to demand an end of the war, and those who have been forced to participate in an illegal armed conflict they did not choose. The draft resolution vetoed by the Russian Federation in the Council on Friday night makes clear that Ukraine has been subject to aggression and that the Russian Federation was the aggressor. The Assembly must condemn the Russian Federation’s attack against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in unequivocal terms, he said.
BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), echoing support for Ukraine, condemned the aggression and called for action to end it, underlining that international law, peaceful settlement of disputes and respecting decisions of international tribunals and their full implementation are the foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and just world. The International Court of Justice, where Ukraine already filed proceedings, should have a key role as well as the International Criminal Court, where the Office of the Prosecutor is closely monitoring the situation in Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s invasion represents a most serious threat to European and global security and stability while breaching the Helsinki Final Act. Slovenia also condemns the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine, he said, calling on that country to abide by its international obligations and raising extreme concern over the constitutional referendum in Belarus on 27 February — which resulted in the deletion of article 18 on its non-nuclear status. Support to Ukraine and solidarity with its people at this difficult time is desperately needed right now, he said, noting Slovenia’s contributions. The General Assembly has a responsibility to address the Russian Federation’s actions, and today’s emergency special session is a crucial and historical moment to act and hold Moscow accountable and make appropriate recommendations for collective measures which will restore peace and security.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), aligning himself with the European Union, noted that images from Ukraine evoke painful memories in his country, which has experienced the ugly face of aggression, with tanks roaming in the streets, violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity as desperate civilians carried family photos, their most valuable possessions, in plastic bags while fleeing and wondering how the world let that happen and why was it not helping. Addressing the people of Ukraine, he said: “We feel your pain, your sorrow and your anger. We experienced it, as did our neighbours in Bosnia and Herzegovina and many others represented in the General Assembly Hall today.” If the Security Council remained paralyzed to react to the aggression and sufferings in Ukraine because of the Russian Federation’s veto, the General Assembly should not, he said, declaring that: “If we do not remain faithful to the United Nations Charter, our Organization is losing its meaning, our countries are losing credibility, and we, as human beings, are losing our souls.” Croatia offers support and aid, but this is not enough, as it is a political, moral and legal duty to urge occupying Russian forces and their commander to immediately withdraw from Ukraine. The International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s warning that if atrocity crimes are committed in Ukraine they will be prosecuted should be taken seriously. He also called on Belarus to stop being an accomplice to this crime of aggression. Urging Member States to speak with one voice to stop the war, he said: “We have to act now; we are the United Nations.”
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine is a clear and grave violation of international law, stressing that only the Ukrainian people can determine their own destiny. Turkey rejects the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk republics, as it has rejected the illegal annexation of Crimea, and calls for its revocation. While several countries, including his own, have sought to facilitate negotiations, he said that the Russian Federation has chosen another path, calling on it to hear the pleas of the international community and of its own people on the streets to stop its military operations, withdraw all its forces from Ukraine, and return to diplomacy and dialogue without delay. He called upon both parties to start negotiations based on the Minsk agreements and security concerns of all. “It is not too late to do the right thing,” he said. Stressing that the role of the United Nations cannot be reduced to a post-conflict humanitarian intervention service, he said Member States can and should defend the Charter. They must defend the people they have pledged to serve, and they must do it more effectively than the Security Council. Noting that the Assembly will be presented with a draft resolution for adoption, he said it is a simple choice between right and wrong, and between rule of law and chaos. The Assembly has the power to pave the way for a peaceful solution. “But if we fail to take action, the rising death toll will rest on the conscience of humanity for decades to come,” he said, stressing “history will not judge us kindly”.
JIM KELLY (Ireland) said the Russian Federation’s use of the veto at the Security Council was a reprehensible attempt to excuse its own military aggression against Ukraine. However, that will not deter Member States from holding the Russian Federation accountable for its actions. He called on the Assembly to step up where the Council has failed, to uphold the principles of the Charter, condemn aggression and support a return to the path of diplomacy and peace. Recalling that the United Nations rose from the ashes of two world wars, he said the commitments of Member States are binding on every one of them, including Belarus. Pointing out that the Russian Federation has not acted alone, he condemned Belarus’ involvement and reminded it of its responsibility to abide by international law. In that regard, the deletion of the reference to Belarus’s non-nuclear status in its Constitution is of deep concern, he said. The Russian Federation must allow safe, unhindered passage of humanitarian assistance to those in need. It must protect all civilians in Ukraine, allow them unfettered passage to destinations outside the country, and respect international law. As women and girls face heightened risks and are particularly vulnerable in conflict, his country has begun providing humanitarian support, announcing a €10 million humanitarian package, and stands ready to do more.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine, said he had hoped not to make this statement. Reiterating that the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine infringes on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of that country, he added that it also shakes the very foundation of international order. The Russian Federation’s actions are a clear violation of the Charter, he said, adding that the country must immediately withdraw its forces and come back to the path of diplomacy. Calling for international cooperation in tackling this issue, he said his Government is taking measures to freeze the assets of designated individuals. Also voicing support for international efforts to remove select Russian banks from the SWIFT system, he noted that Belarus is clearly involved in the aggression. “We, the people, are at a critical juncture in upholding rule of law,” he stressed.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) highlighted the General Assembly’s crucial role in ending the suffering of Ukraine’s people, given that the Security Council was not able to discharge its mandate and adopt the measures needed to end the acts of aggression. Reiterating his country’s rejection of the so-called right of veto, he recalled that during the San Francisco Conference, the States that would later become the permanent Security Council members issued a joint statement in which they declared that the veto would not be used to hinder the Council’s functioning. “The reality which emerged has been quite different,” he said, calling upon the permanent Council members to refrain from using the veto in situations in which they themselves are directly involved or in situations of mass atrocities. In order to guarantee accountability, the Assembly must have a mechanism which allows it to convene a meeting where a permanent member who used the veto in such a situation explains why they used it. Stressing the binding nature of the Budapest Memorandum and the Minsk agreements, he underscored the need for immediate cessation of hostilities and urgent humanitarian aid. His delegation and that of France will present a draft resolution in the Council regarding this, he noted.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), regretting that the Council was unable to carry out its responsibility to maintain international peace and security in relation to the Ukraine conflict, urged delegations to insert fresh urgency to negotiations on Security Council reform. Cautioning that considerable sanctions against the Russian Federation could cause the conflict to escalate and broaden, he said bold statesmanship is most needed to steer the international community away from the rocky precipice towards which it is being swept. Deeply disturbed by the racism that has characterized the expressions of solidarity in parts of Europe, he said prominent figures in multiple media channels are expressing their solidarity in shockingly racist terms. Rather than join hands with the world, they are pushing the demeaning and inaccurate view that violent conflict only belongs to the global South. There is credible news of African students being made to stand in the back of the queue when getting on trains and buses to safety. He condemned such racism against Africans and people of African descent, thanking those countries neighbouring Ukraine that are helping Kenyan students to cross the borders. Pointing to the tide of sophisticated misinformation circulating that appears to want to spark a broader conflict, including between nuclear-armed States, he urged all relevant organizations, including media houses and social media companies, to exercise caution in the management of information.
FRANÇOIS JACKMAN (Barbados), associating himself with the Caribbean Community’s statement on 24 February, said his country is gravely concerned by the actions taken by the Russian authorities. Underscoring the importance of the United Nations Charter and the agreement of Member States to refrain from the threat or use of force against another State, he said those principles have special meaning for small States like his whose existence depends not on their military might or hard power but on respect for and upholding of those principles. He called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease its hostilities and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives), calling for respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, said that as a small State, her country has always taken a principled stand on violations of the territorial integrity of a sovereign country. Recalling that in 1989 the Maldives advocated for General Assembly resolution 46/43 on the protection and security of small States, she said this position is based on a bedrock belief in the equality of all States and unconditional respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter. In the face of a mightier adversary, countries such as hers cannot rely on force, she pointed out, adding that instead they rely on international law and the multilateral system. “We know we do not possess powerful weapons of destruction; instead we rely on our principles and the solidarity of nations,” she said, noting that Ukraine has already witnessed death and destruction. Highlighting the need for safe passage for Maldivian students in the region, she noted that her Government has granted extensions of tourist visas to Ukrainian nationals in her country.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), recalling that it took two world wars and the loss of 70 million lives before the international community realized the need for a multilateral organization to preserve international peace and security, cautioned that the world was moving again towards a point of no return. As a constitutionally peace-loving State, Bolivia rejects all wars of aggression, he said, adding that within this constitutional framework, his country continues to reject all invasions and unilateral actions by various powers throughout recent history, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Palestine and, today, Ukraine. The responsibility for the current conflict rests not only on the shoulders of the country that has decided to unilaterally undertake a military operation, but also on the shoulders of Western Powers who jeopardized the security and peace of other States through NATO. By using some States as middlemen to favor the expansionist ambitions of Western Powers, NATO threatens security, he said, stressing: “NATO is not a guarantee of security; on the contrary, it is a threat to international security.” Recalling the bombing of Yugoslavia which occurred without the Council’s authorization, he condemned the moral double standards shown by certain powers which are fanning the flames of confrontation rather than seeking peace. Welcoming the beginning of negotiations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, on the border with Belarus, he called it a glimmer of hope and cautioned against unilateral sanctions.
RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) said the Russian Federation ordered its nuclear weapons to be put on alert — a result from Moscow’s own acts of aggression — which violates international law and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Russian Federation has also violated other agreements, including by using cluster munitions, targeting civilians and launching cyberattacks in its aggression against Ukraine alongside ongoing human rights abuses in certain areas of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. The repercussions of these acts will be felt for a long time, and the international community must keep a record of all these crimes by the Russian Federation and any other party. Demanding that all nuclear forces be taken off high alert, he called on nuclear-weapon States to comply with their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, inviting all nations to join the instrument. Calling for humanitarian access in Ukraine, he asked the General Assembly to appoint a special envoy to address the needs of Ukrainians refugees. All members of the General Assembly must condemn the use of explosive devices in populated areas and work to achieve a diplomatic solution to this conflict, he said, calling for a ceasefire, troop withdrawal and an end to military action. “If violence is put aside, we can return to diplomacy,” he said, calling for an end of the mentality that has brought the world to this point. Costa Rica will vote in favour of the draft resolution to demonstrate that States can reshape history.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said the United Nations Charter is clear: all States must refrain from threats or use of force. She condemned the Russian Federation’s attack, which challenges fundamental concepts of international law and rules-based global order and are “threats to us all”. Revisionism is the main threat to world peace and will not be tolerated. Alarmed at Moscow’s raising of the nuclear threat, she called on the Russian Federation to de-escalate and return to the de-alert level. Turning to the humanitarian consequences of the conflict, she said the deaths and suffering are unnecessary. Attacks must stop immediately, with a priority being protecting and meeting the urgent needs of civilians. Greek communities around Mariupol have suffered deaths and injuries, she said, adding that Greece has mobilized with partners to project a unified response, including sanctions and commitments to address the grave humanitarian crisis. This is the beginning of a new era, and the current situation will have major consequences, she said, emphasizing that the Assembly has a historic responsibility to address this attack.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador), recalling various recent meetings of the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine, noted his delegation’s surprise and regret at the rejection of diplomatic means to resolve the crisis. Emphasizing that peace is a pillar of Ecuador’s foreign policy, he underlined the need to “leave the door open” to all parties. The Assembly’s special session must serve as a precedent so that, should such regrettable incidents recur, they will be dealt with in the same serious manner as the situation today. Ecuador has been unequivocal in its condemnation of those who violate international law and its support of those who seek to resolve the dispute, he said, voicing support for the work of the Secretary-General, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other global bodies in Ukraine. Ecuador itself has safely repatriated many of its own students from Ukraine in recent days, he added, urging all countries to support the draft resolution before the Assembly.
JOSÉ MANUEL RODRÍGUEZ CUADROS (Peru) said the international system governing relations between countries and peoples is underpinned by two crucial principles — namely, the obligation not to use force or threaten to use force against other sovereign States, and the obligation to resolve disputes through peaceful means. Those principles have been violated by the Russian Federation’s actions in Ukraine, counter to the United Nations Charter and international law. Strongly condemning those aggressions and calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict, he said Peru’s external relations are built upon respect for sovereignty and international humanitarian law. He went on to endorse ICRC’s appeal to urgently address the refugee crisis in Ukraine, as well as its demand that all parties respect civilians and civilian infrastructure, while voicing support for the draft resolution currently before the Assembly.
LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala) said that as a founding member of the United Nations, Guatemala firmly believes in the principles and values of the Charter. These principles include the crucial pillars and purposes that led to the inception of the United Nations, which was created so the suffering of the first and second World Wars never happens again. Guatemala condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the military aggression against the territorial integrity of the Ukraine, the aggression against its people and against international human rights laws. It condemns the military decisions and actions of the Russian Federation, which include the senseless loss of lives. These actions also threaten regional and global security. Guatemala stands in solidarity with the Government of Ukraine and calls for the immediate withdrawal from its illegally occupied territories. As a permanent member of the Council, the Russian Federation has a particular obligation to uphold peace. There is still time to return to the negotiating table and end the conflict. The international community cannot allow history to be repeated. “Guatemala is speaking out in favour of life, in favour of peace, in favour of global security,” he said.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), noting Member States’ continued efforts to rally the world to condemn the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and hold it accountable, said “the Soviet Union is dead and nothing, no fantasy, no nostalgia, no war will never ever bring it back”. He condemned Belarus’ involvement in the aggression against Ukraine and called on it to abide by its international obligations. Albania has joined nations that have imposed sanctions and other restrictive measures against the Russian Federation and has subscribed to the entire package adopted by the European Union. Also, his country has closed its air space to Russian operators and joined the sanctions on the freezing of assets of individuals, including those of the Russian Federation’s President and which will apply to 654 individuals and 52 entities. Economic sanctions include restrictive measures in finance, energy, transport and technology. In addition, Albania will no longer participate in any sports activity with the Russian Federation until it ceases its aggression against Ukraine. Given the worsening humanitarian situation, his country has committed to sheltering refugees. “If we agree, willingly or by indifference, to let what is commonly agreed unravel, in front of our eyes as this act of aggression does, what respect do we have for what has been built during 76 years since World War II?”, he asked. Albania has co-sponsored the draft resolution, he said, calling on all Members States to do so.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said that despite successive crises and major challenges that have confronted the international community for decades, Western States have never demonstrated so much excitement in calling an emergency special session of the General Assembly, which demonstrates a politics of hypocrisy and double standards, based on interests and not principles. The memories and files of the United Nations have ample proof of illegitimate acts of intervention by the United States and its NATO allies that have caused millions of innocent deaths in Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, not to mention the blockades imposed on people in Latin America and elsewhere to achieve their own objectives. He condemned the campaign organized and led by the West and their media against the Russian Federation, in particular the deliberate spreading of fake news and insidious allegations to prevent that country from exercising its right to defend its sovereignty and to protect its people.
Noting that Western countries have ignored the historical links between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples, he said they are ignoring the suffering of the people of the Donbas region. Moreover, those States have ignored the Russian Federation’s legitimate security concerns and have not hesitated to provide weapons, including missiles, to Ukraine while downplaying the effects of their own decisions on regional security and stability, he noted. Nonetheless, the Russian Federation has always made pragmatic proposals, although they have been ignored, he said. The unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States and the West are in contravention of international law and are harming people in the region, he added. Condemning those punitive measures, he said that being on the right side of history means rejecting the West’s bellicose policies.
T. S. TIRUMURTI (India) reiterated his delegation’s previous calls for an immediate cessation of violence and an end to hostilities, noting that all United Nations Member States are not only obliged to follow the Charter but also to respect international law, territorial integrity and State sovereignty. There is no other choice but to return to the path of diplomacy, he emphasized, recalling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated that sentiment strongly in his recent conversations with the leadership of both the Russian Federation and Ukraine. India, for its part, will be providing urgent relief supplies, including medicines, to the Ukrainian people in the coming days, and is working to undertake the urgent evacuation of its nationals still stranded in that country. Thanking neighbouring countries which have opened their borders to Indian citizens, he said that his country stands ready to support them.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said the fact that the Assembly is meeting in emergency format for the first time in decades bears witness to the international community’s frustration at the Security Council’s failure to adopt a decision in favour of peace. Reaffirming his country’s commitment to the principles enshrined in Article 2 of the Charter, he rejected the use or threat to use force in international relations. Disputes between States must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Charter, he emphasized, expressing support for the resolution submitted today, which condemns the aggression against Ukraine. Calling for the immediate cessation of that aggression and for the withdrawal of occupying troops, he stressed the need for protection of civilians and for access to humanitarian aid.