Seventy-eighth Session,
56th Meeting (AM)

Citing Impact on Global Food, Energy Insecurity Two Years On, Speakers in General Assembly Urge United Front against Russian Federation’s Invasion of Ukraine

In a meeting held to mark the two-year anniversary of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, many speakers stressed the continued need for a united front against a war whose inimical impacts extended far beyond the borders of Ukraine, emphasizing its repercussions on food and energy insecurity, as well as its erosion of the principles of the United Nations Charter and undermining of international law.

Dennis Francis (Trinidad and Tobago), President of the General Assembly, opening the debate, highlighted the destructive effects of the two-year war on the environment and the militarization of nuclear sites, adding:  “Ultimately, the war has affected every Member State gathered in this hall — whether in the form of the soaring food prices or in the context of energy insecurity.”  Over the past two years, millions of civilians had been uprooted from their homes, while schools and hospitals lay in calculated ruin, he said.  The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has verified disturbing increases in non-combatant casualties, with civilian deaths and injuries in January of this year 37 per cent higher than in November 2023.

The war had also disrupted the delicate balance of international relations and stymied the goals Member States had committed to pursue, including grappling with climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he went on.  He urged upholding the United Nations Charter and the rule of law, including by heeding the International Court of Justice’s order of 16 March 2022 which called for the Russian Federation to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine.  While the Security Council is paralyzed by division, he recalled the General Assembly’s two pronouncements — in March 2022 and again in March 2023 — condemning the aggression and demanding the immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Russian military forces from the territory of Ukraine.

The representative of the United States, exhorting Member States to not succumb to “Ukraine fatigue”, emphasized that Moscow’s brazen violation of the United Nations Charter has affected all countries and exacerbated food insecurity and energy exports.  As well, Member States must call on Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to end its military support to the Russian Federation, and to ensure justice for the victims of the latter’s crimes, she said. Condemning the unspeakable brutality and crimes against humanity that have taken place during Moscow’s aggression against Kyiv, she asserted that this war was not one of liberation or self-defence. 

In a similar vein, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, David Cameron, said that the claim that the Russian Federation is fighting against the entire West “is the central lie of this war”.  Citing mutilated bodies in Bucha, a children’s centre turned into a torture chamber, and the rape of teenage girls, he observed that, while there is a prevalent sense of fatigue, the international community must recognize the cost of giving in to a neo-imperialist bully and stay strong — not only for Ukraine, but for the rest of the world, as well as for the security of borders and the sanctity of nations.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, recalled that the General Assembly has demonstrated on numerous occasions that the global majority stands on the side of Ukraine, with over 140 Member States — roughly three quarters of the Organization — taking that fair stance.  “If this Assembly could end the war and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity through passing a bill, Ukraine would already be at peace,” he said.  Further, if the Russian Federation had implemented the International Court of Justice’s 2022 order, there would be peace — a legally-binding decision that remains in force today.  Instead, over the past two years, global security has only deteriorated, partly due to “the bleeding wound in the heart of Europe,” he said, stressing that Moscow “cannot ignore the voice of the world majority if we all take a principled stance and act together”.

Citing the peace formula proposed by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he recalled that participants in related meetings represent every continent and region, meaning this is therefore not merely “a Western undertaking” but a truly global initiative based on the Charter of the UN and relevant Assembly resolutions.  Stressing the enormous scale of the war and the suffering of Ukrainians, he cited the fate of thousands of prisoners of war and human rights violations in the occupied territories, as well as the stealing of Ukrainian children and hostages, calling on the UN to undertake swifter action to enable their return.

The representative of the Russian Federation, alluding to the meeting’s topic, on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, countered that the reality was that there were no temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Instead, there are Russian regions, such as Crimea, which would celebrate the tenth anniversary of its reunification in March, and the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, which have acceded due to the legitimate expression of the will of the people.  Despite this, Kyiv and its Western sponsors air their lies to distort facts and rewrite history, with the latter ignoring their own role in unleashing the crisis in Ukraine, by the Minsk agreements, and through nurturing nationalism and neo-Nazism since 2013, he added.

Following the events in Maidan in 2014, nationalists ignored the rights and freedoms of citizens on ethnic and linguistic grounds in Donbass and Crimea, he said, adding that such facts were inconvenient to Ukraine.  “Russia did not start the war; it came to put an end to it,” he said, adding that, for peace to be brought back, the goals of the special military operation must be met, which could be done through negotiations.  Instead, Kyiv and its Western puppet masters, helmed by Boris Johnson, refused to sign the agreement in Istanbul in April 2022, he said.  Calling Ukraine’s peace formula “an ultimatum” to his country, he underscored the need for “real negotiations” on the ground.

In the ensuing debate, a smattering of speakers defended the need for ongoing diplomatic and military support of Western countries to Ukraine to lend support to global security, multilateralism, and the United Nations Charter.  Among them was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, who underscored that Ukraine needed military, diplomatic and economic support, while the Russian Federation and Belarus needed to face isolation for their contempt for the core principles of the UN Charter.  Highlighting the war’s impact beyond Ukraine’s borders, he pointed out that Moscow was instrumentalizing energy prices, food security and migration, impacting vulnerable populations globally.

Similarly, Annalena Baerbock, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, emphasizing that the war in Ukraine is causing death and destruction, not just in Ukraine but around the world, stressed that “President Putin has proved again and again that to him, human lives count for nothing — neither abroad nor at home,” where he arrests Russian children for laying flowers to mourn the death of Alexei Navalny.

The speaker for Switzerland also emphasized the need for a united front, stating:  “Let us remain ‘united nations’ and not allow ourselves to be drawn into the spiral of military force or the temptation of power that transforms us into ‘disunited powers’.”  Affirming that the Charter represents the road to peace, he said his country would ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions, for which it is the guarantor, and will organize a high-level conference on peace in Ukraine by this summer.

Romania’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Traian Hristea, was among several speakers stressing the need for the Assembly to reaffirm that international law as well as the Charter matter.  “The world has to send a clear message:  there is no justification for bloodshed, destruction and human suffering,” he said.  Voicing support for the Ukrainian Peace Formula, he called on the Russian Federation to abide by international law and withdraw from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.  Similarly, Radosław Sikorski, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, observing that “Kremlin shows no intention to change the course; quite the reverse”, called on Member States to support Ukraine, in line with the resolution adopted by the General Assembly two years ago, which demanded that the Russian Federation cease its use of force and withdraw its military forces from Ukraine.

Echoing such points, Lisbet Zilmer-Johns, State Secretary for Foreign Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, also speaking for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, recalled the bloc’s support for the Assembly resolution calling for a lasting peace in Ukraine, adding that it was “not an isolated war”.  She therefore voiced support for President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula and a peace summit, stressing that Ukraine alone should define the prerequisites for peace.

Meanwhile, the speaker for Georgia, citing Moscow’s continued illegal occupation of two regions in his country, impacting its security and contributing to a dire humanitarian situation, said it is alarming that the Russian Federation continues to deny access for international human rights mechanisms.  Affirming Tbilisi’s full solidarity with Ukraine, including political and diplomatic steps, substantial humanitarian assistance, and support for all resolutions and initiatives by international organizations, he voiced full support for Ukraine’s Peace Formula, beyond the restoration of peace and territorial integrity, citing his country’s welcoming of more than 28,000 war-affected Ukrainians.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the delegate of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, speaking in exercise of right of reply, denounced the “groundless claims” by the United States’ delegate  of his country’s arms dealings with the Russian Federation.  Instead, the United States is driving the Ukraine crisis to the brink of nuclear war through its continuous supply of lethal weapons, including cluster bombs, to the Ukrainian battlefield, he said, adding that that country has no right to slander normal cooperation in the field of national defence.

For information media. Not an official record.