In Rousing Speech, Zelenskyy Takes Ukraine’s Case to U.N. Assembly
By: George Baumgarten
In one of the most spectacular—and most anticipated—U.N. speeches in recent years, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of peace but described the sudden and cruel war that Russia has been waging against his country. Speaking in English, the President said “A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment”. It was a crime against human dignity, and against those values that make us a community of nations. And Ukraine therefore “demands punishment for trying to steal our territory”.
The crime was also an offense to the values that “make you and me a community of the United Nations”. He spoke as the representative of a state defending itself from “catastrophic turbulence”. Ukraine, Europe and the world want peace, he said, but we have seen THE ONLY ONE who wants war”.
The President noted that Ukraine held 88 rounds of talks with Russia. But Russia, which began its aggression in 2014, has now turned it into a full-scale invasion. So, first of all, she must be punished for that aggressive act. Therefore, there must be sanctions against the aggressor. He advocated removing Russia’s right of veto in the Security Council. We must not turn a blind eye to propagandists. And citizens of the aggressor state should not be allowed to travel as tourists to other countries. President Zelenskyy said Russia should atone for its aggression “with its assets”.
The President spoke of the abject cruelty of the Russian Forces: Citizens—primarily women and children—crushed under bombed buildings. A man who was castrated, before being murdered. Innocent civilians buried in mass graves. In contrast, he said “We must protect life. The world must protect life”.
The President assured his listeners that “We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms”. But Ukraine needs time. And more help from her supporters.
Zelenskyy noted also that many countries—28 mentioned by name—have been recipients of Ukrainian agricultural products. But in spite of this, Russia has attacked Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. “And that”, he said, “makes all of you a target”.
The President also advocated a cap on Russian energy prices. But will the world go along, or will it be scared and intimidated?
This brought the President back to Russian horrors: Bucha, Mariupol, missile strikes, tank attacks. All this is a great assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And security guarantees, which are the right of every sovereign state.
And finally, the President spoke of Ukraine’s absolute determination to defend itself. In this regard, it has surprised—even shocked—the world: A scrappy little (Not that little; Ukraine is the largest country wholly within Europe.).
The one thing that Ukraine chooses not to be is neutral. Ukraine cannot be neutral, because she cannot be indifferent. Countries protect only their vested interests, and that is what creates conditions for war. But Ukraine’s “peace formula” becomes a de-facto reform of the United Nations.
Russia, Zelenskyy says, will be forced to end this war. But her invasion and her missiles show that in truth she wants war. That is why the world is on Ukraine’s side. Only seven countries voted not to hear the President’s video address. But 101 voted in favor. Therefore, he says, “peace will prevail over any aggression”. And he wished peace to all his listeners.
And the President ended with what has become the rallying-cry: Slava Ukraini! Glory to Ukraine!
George Baumgarten is a UN Correspondent and contributor to Jewish Newspapers in North America
© Copyright 2022 George Alan Baumgarten