In a videotaped speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the world to punish the Russian government for the war it launched against Ukraine earlier this year.
“A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand a just punishment,” Zelensky said. “The crime was committed against our state lines. The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed again against the dignity of our women and men. The crime was committed against the values that make you and me a community of the United Nations.”
Only seven member states voted against allowing Zelensky to address the General Assembly via video feed, Ukraine’s president said: Russia, North Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba, Syria, Belarus and Eritrea. Time and again, Zelensky used his comments to make it clear that Russia should be held accountable for its decision to start a pre-emptive war against its neighbor.
“Ukraine demands punishment for trying to steal our territory, punishment for the murder of thousands of people, punishment for the torture and humiliation of women and men, punishment for the catastrophic turbulence Russia caused with its illegal war – and not just for us Ukrainians, but for the whole world,” Zelensky said.
Punishing Russia, Zelensky said, was part of what he termed as a 5-point “formula for peace” to end the ongoing conflict. The other items in his plan included guarantees to protect human life, the restoration of security measures and the restoration of Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”, future security guarantees and Ukraine’s unbridled “determination to defend itself”.
In particular, Zelensky said international punishment against Russia should be carried out up to “the internationally recognized border” [of Ukraine] will be restored,” and “until the damage and losses of the war are fully compensated.” Until then, international sanctions against Moscow must continue, Zelensky said.
Russia should also be stripped of its right to vote or veto at the UN as a permanent member of the Security Council, Zelensky said. He also targeted some Russian citizens, such as those who have vacationed in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, while the war is raging just miles away.
“Citizens of the Aggressor State” [Russia] should not enjoy tourism or shopping in the territory of those who appreciate it,” Zelensky said, “but should be encouraged through visa restrictions to fight the aggression of their own state.”
Zelensky noted that while the General Assembly was taking place, the Ukrainian military continued to uncover human remains from a mass grave in the recently liberated city of Izyum.
“The bodies of women and men, children and adults, civilians and soldiers were found there – 445 graves,” Zelensky said before telling how a male victim was castrated before being killed.
“Please ask Russia’s representatives why the Russian military is so obsessed” [sic] castration,’ Zelensky said. “What has been done to them to make them want to do this to others?”
In a speech delivered earlier in the day before the Assembly, President Joe Biden strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This war is about eradicating Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” Biden said. “Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe… that should make your blood clot.”
Weapons supplied by the United States and other NATO allies are credited with helping influence the momentum in the conflict toward Ukraine, and Biden made it clear that the US would not flinch in its resistance to Russian aggression. Still, Zelensky renewed his call for even more military hardware.
“For us, this is war for life. That’s why we need defense support,” Zelensky said. “Weapons, military equipment and grenades. Offensive weapons, and long-range weapons, are enough to liberate our country. And defensive systems, especially air defense, and we need financial support to maintain internal stability and fulfill social obligations to our people .”
In his own speech on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists to the army to try to reverse recent military setbacks in Ukraine. He also accused the US and Europe of “nuclear blackmail” and made no veiled threats to use nuclear weapons.
“The territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be guaranteed, I will emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal,” Putin said. “And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.”
But Zelensky also referred to an incident that happened Monday in which Russian artillery shells exploded near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv province, the latest act in the conflict that, Zelensky said, confirmed Putin was the one posing a global threat. formed.
“On the eve of the General Assembly meeting, Russia fired rockets at a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The explosion hit the station buildings. Windows were broken, walls were damaged. The rockets exploded just 300 meters from the walls of And this is after the IAEA’s clear appeal to Russia to end all hostile activity against Ukraine’s nuclear facilities,” Zelensky said, adding: “That makes you all a target. Russian radiation blackmail is something that should concern each of you because none of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness.”