Zelenskyy denounces UN inaction on Putin’s war in Ukraine


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York. September 22, 2021 (REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his September 22 speech to the United Nations General Assembly to criticize the ineffective response of the international community to Russian aggression in Ukraine and to support calls for reform of the UN itself. even, whom he called a “retired superhero”.

The Ukrainian leader painted a grim picture of the damage done to international security by the failure to defend international law and hold Vladimir Putin responsible for his attack on Ukraine. “No one in the world feels safe anymore. I insist: no one feels safe. And no one can hide behind international law as behind a stone wall, ”Zelenskyy commented.

He argued that continued international inaction in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine would fuel the rise of instability and authoritarianism around the world. “This can lead to the collapse of the whole architecture of international relations. We will no longer have any other rules than force is just. It will be a world where, instead of collective efforts, selfishness dominates; a world with more and more dictatorships, less equality, less democracy and less freedom.

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The UN decision not to participate in the inaugural Crimean Platform summit, which took place in Kiev on August 23, has been the subject of specific criticism. The Crimean Platform initiative aims to put the ongoing Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine back on the international radar. A total of 46 countries and international organizations attended the initial summit last month, but the United Nations was not a part of it.

Zelenskyy accused the UN of “ignoring a platform designed to resolve issues of international law and the occupation”, and implied that this was due to mistaken concerns about offending Russia, permanent member of the UN Security Council. “If we want to revive the UN, let us remember that there are no elected officials here who cannot be offended. The UN is all of us, the 193 countries.

Continuing his attack on Russia’s alleged international appeasement, the Ukrainian president made clear his gratitude to other UN members who risked Moscow’s displeasure in raising the issue of Putin’s war in Ukraine during the current United Nations General Assembly. “I thank all the states that have mentioned Ukraine in their speeches here this year. It is very important. And many others who are not ashamed that Ukraine is their friend and partner. Who can call things by name, call occupation occupation and assault assault, without fear of someone leaving this room for everyone to see.

Questioning the effectiveness of the UN in its current format, Zelenskyy pointed to the organization’s apparent inability to counter Russia’s passport policy of imperialism in occupied eastern Ukraine, which reportedly saw the Kremlin have issued more than 600,000 Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens since the spring of 2019. “Isn’t that proof of an international crime? international? Moreover, the Russian Federation itself officially declares it. And it obliges our Ukrainian citizens to participate in the elections to the Russian parliament. If the UN does not respond effectively and strongly to this, does it not. proof that it is too late to relaunch the UN? ”

The former showman concluded his speech in a characteristic colorful style, comparing the UN today to a “retired superhero” who has long forgotten what he once was capable of. “He sees himself as a burden, a weak, frail, useless old man whose life has been in vain. Or maybe the UN will remember something?

Zelenskyy’s strong speech at the UN reflects the significantly more combative stance the Ukrainian leader has taken on foreign policy issues since the start of 2021. This has seen him make his voice heard more and more about what he considers as insufficient international support for Ukraine as it battles an eighth year of Russian rule. aggression. He also expressed his frustration at the inability of some partners to fully grasp the high geopolitical stakes of the confrontation between Moscow and Kiev.

In recent months, Zelenskyy has called on the US and the EU to provide Ukraine with a clearer roadmap for the country’s further Euro-Atlantic integration. Speaking to Western media in the summer of 2021, he said he wanted US President Joe Biden to provide a clear “yes or no” answer regarding a NATO membership action plan for the Ukraine. Senior officials in Zelenskyy’s administration, such as Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, echoed the Ukrainian leader’s decision to adopt more direct language.

This demanding tone has not produced any major breakthroughs, which has led to accusations that Zelenskyy risks unnecessarily undermining the goodwill of the democratic world. However, his vocal critique of perceived Western inaction and appeasement policies is quite in tune with Ukrainian public opinion.

Many Ukrainians have long felt that the international community does not take Russia’s aggression against Ukraine seriously enough and are happy to see Zelenskyy voice their concerns on the world stage. This should bolster domestic support for the Ukrainian president, but it remains to be seen whether it will help his country’s cause internationally.

Peter Dickinson is editor-in-chief of the UkraineAlert service at the Atlantic Council.

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The opinions expressed in UkraineAlert are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Atlantic Council, its staff or its supporters.

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