Zelenskyj calls for punishment for Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, describes merciless conflict crimes in breathtaking UN handle
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seen on video screens as he delivers a recorded speech before the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 21, 2022.
Fresh Mike | Reuters
UNITED NATIONS – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a UN address to world leaders on Wednesday called for world leaders to hold Russia accountable for its months-long assault on his nation.
“Russia should pay for this war,” Zelenskyy said, calling for a special UN tribunal to “punish Russia.”
“We must finally recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” he said, echoing previous demands from the early days of the war.
Zelenskyy’s dramatic remarks in English and lasting nearly 30 minutes followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to mobilize hundreds of thousands of soldiers for the war.
Continue reading: “Our world is in danger,” said the UN chief in his opening speech at the General Assembly
Zelenskyy, who hasn’t left his war-weary nation since Russia’s full-throttle invasion in February, appeared virtually following an introduction by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the 77th UN General Assembly. Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal flanked Kuleba.
Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska smiles during a standing ovation after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech via video during the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City, September 21, 2022.
Fresh Mike | Reuters
Zelensky is the only head of state to address the international forum in this manner, an exceptional exception voted on last week.
The 193-strong world body approved Zelenskky’s virtual pronouncements by a vote of 101 to 7 with 19 abstentions, including China. Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia and Syria were the seven countries that voted against Zelenskyy’s motion.
During his speech, the President of Ukraine called on these seven nations to be “afraid of video addressing”.
A view of the 74th United Nations General Assembly on September 28, 2019 in New York City.
Kena Betancur | News from Getty Images | Getty Images
Zelenskyy’s speech, which received nearly a minute of applause and a standing ovation, comes as Russia’s war enters its eighth month and the Kremlin shows no signs of abandoning its ambitions to wipe out Ukrainian sovereignty in order to restore the Soviet empire.
“Nations of the world, Ukraine wants peace,” said Zelenskyy.
“Europe wants peace. The world wants peace. And we’ve seen who’s the only one who wants war. There is only one among all UN member states who, if they could interrupt my speech, would now say that they are satisfied with it. “War, his war,” he added, without naming Putin.
Zelenskyi described mass graves uncovered in the recently recaptured city of Izium in northeastern Ukraine.
“The bodies of women and men, children and adults, civilians and soldiers were found in 445 graves,” he said, adding that some were bound and tortured before they died. He described in grisly detail the body of a man who was found castrated before being murdered.
“Russia wants to spend the winter on the occupied territory of Ukraine and prepare for a new offensive: new Buchas, new Iziums,” he said, referring to mass executions and graves discovered in Bucha in April.
Two forensic scientists dig near a cross in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum in eastern Ukraine, September 16, 2022.
Juan Barreto | AFP | Getty Images
The United Nations estimates that Russia’s war has so far claimed nearly 6,000 civilian lives and injured more than 8,600. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights adds that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher.
Moreover, the conflict took another anxious turn on Wednesday morning when Putin expressed his support for a referendum to decide whether four occupied regions of Ukraine should join Russia. The move is believed to be an attempt by the Kremlin to annex more parts of its former Soviet neighbor. Voting could take place as early as this weekend.
Putin also ordered about 300,000 Russian reservists to join the fight. The partial mobilization, Russia’s first since World War II, follows a series of stunning Ukrainian advances in recent days.
Armed with a plethora of Western weaponry, Ukrainian forces have made significant gains against the Kremlin’s powerful war machine.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits Kharkiv region of Ukraine for the first time since Russia’s attacks on his country on February 24, 2022, May 29, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The United States has so far provided Kyiv with a war chest worth more than $15 billion. Meanwhile, NATO allies have been beefing up security across the region, taking in refugees and training Ukrainian forces.
Continue reading: Biden calls on allied nations to give more support to Ukraine at the UN General Assembly
Zelenskyy has called for more guns as his nation wages an epoch-making struggle for democratic principles and global order. Specifically, he called for long-range weapons, heavy artillery, and air defense systems.
He also asked for humanitarian and financial support, as well as help with reconstruction projects. The European Commission and World Bank estimate that Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction will cost at least $349 billion.
While nearly every leader who has stepped behind the famous speaker’s podium to address the international forum has condemned Russia for its ongoing assault, Zelenskyy has urged leaders to publicly state where they stand on the war.
Without specifically naming countries, the Ukrainian president criticized nations that have taken a neutral stance in the face of the Russian war.
“They pretend to protect someone, but in reality they are only protecting their personal interests,” he said.