UNITED NATIONS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans to visit the United Nations to address a high-level meeting of the 193-member General Assembly on the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of his country on Feb. 24, if the security situation allows. official said Friday.
First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova warned in an interview with The The Bharat Express News that many factors must be in place before he can come, citing primarily the military situation on the ground and a warning from Ukrainian intelligence that Russia is plan is “a very serious offensive in February.”
“Our president would like to come, he has the will or the intention to come,” she said, “but it remains to be seen whether there will be a security situation that will allow him to come.”
If Zelenskyy comes to the UN, it would be only his second trip outside Ukraine since the invasion. He made a surprise visit to Washington on Dec. 21 to meet with his key backers in the war against Russia — President Joe Biden and members of Congress whom he thanked for their support and told Ukraine “against all odds” is still holding.
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said the General Assembly has already scheduled a high-level debate on the war on February 23, which will be followed by a Security Council ministerial meeting on February 24.
Dzhaparova said Ukraine would like the assembly to pass one of two resolutions Zelenskyy wants to see approved on the eve of the anniversary of the invasion.
She said Ukraine is discussing the two measures with its partners, one that would support the president’s 10-point peace formula, which includes the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the withdrawal of Russian troops, and the other that would see a tribunal for crimes of aggression, which could hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked invasion.
“We have to act step by step,” Dzhaparova said. “It remains to be seen which will be the first. … I believe this is something we will know very soon, in the next two weeks.”
In late December, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told TBEN that the government wanted a “peace” summit at the UN by the end of February, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a mediator, but he did not expect Russia to participate. That would make it difficult to foresee mediation or an end to the devastating war.
Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian ambassador, said he does not think Russian President Vladimir Putin would allow anyone to attend a summit because it is inconsistent with his plan that Russian territorial gains are non-negotiable.
Dzhaparova said a summit is still being discussed and stressed that “it is not a negotiation”.
Dzhaparova said the summit would be a platform to discuss things Ukraine considers important, on top of the 10-point peace proposal, which also includes the release of all prisoners, a tribunal for those responsible for Russian aggression and security guarantees for Ukraine.
“It’s about shaping the discourse,” she explained.
It does not mean that by passing a resolution or holding a summit, Ukraine is ready to sign a peace deal or a ceasefire, Dzhaparova said. It means that only after a resolution or summit “negotiations for peace, or the peace agreement, can be started”.
The former journalist and TV presenter, a Crimean Tatar whose parents left Crimea after Russia’s 2014 takeover and annexation of the strategic peninsula, said Ukraine needs political, economic and military support.
Politically, Dzhaparova said, Russia has discredited the UN Charter, which opposes the use of force against another country, and international law should be flouted and isolated by the international community.
She said it is critical to provide financial support to Ukraine, as its economy has suffered much more than Russia’s, and to provide weapons “to fight for peace”.
Dzhaparova said that the Ukrainian armed forces are highly motivated and fight to protect their country and people, “but the Russian army does not understand what they are fighting for.”
“We’re doing our best to win, but at the end of the day it’s still a question of what the end will be,” she said.
If Ukraine were to lose, Dzhaparova said, Putin would not be pleased “and I am sure Russia will attack other countries in the near future.”
“This is not just about Ukraine, it is about a common goal to prevent further aggression,” she stressed. “If the war is not controlled in Ukraine, the war will get bigger.”