October 1, 2022

united nations — Chat in English with 193 nations United Nations General AssemblyUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a pre-recorded message to standing ovations, with the exception of the Russian delegation and a few other countries, in a hall packed with world leaders and his own wife, First Lady Olena Zelensky.

Zelenskyy could not travel to the UN headquarters in New York because of the escalation Russian attacks. Just a few hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a major mobilization of Russian forces for attacks on Ukraine, and began preparations for a referendum that would formalize the occupation of parts of Ukraine. The USA and the European Union consider the referendum to be fake.

Earlier this year, the UN decided that a leader must be at headquarters to speak this year. But the General Assembly voted 101-7 for an exception for Zelenski. Members who voted against his speech included Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is shown on screen as he addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on September 21, 2022.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

“It was a vote not only on format. It was a vote on principles,” Zelenskyy said in his speech on Wednesday. “Seven who are afraid of video addresses. Seven who respond to principles with a red button. Only seven. One hundred and one – and seven.”

The Ukrainian president went on to detail the crimes committed against civilians in the country and asked the UN to hold Russia accountable for the alleged crimes. He said the family – a father, a mother, a six-year-old girl, an eight-year-old girl and their grandparents – had been killed in a Russian airstrike, and pointed to the recently discovered mass grave in Izjum.

Zelenskyy said that the UN should recognize Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

“After the Russian missile terror. After the massacre. After Mariupol,” he said. “After the burning of Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka by the Russian army. After the blockade of the port. After Russian tanks and missiles hit nuclear power plants. And after threats to use nuclear weapons, which have become the rule, not the exception, for Russian propagandists…”

Zelenskyy presented a plan with five “preconditions” for peace with Russia: punishment for aggression; protection of life; restoration of security and territorial integrity; security guarantees; and determination to defend himself. He also called on the UN to establish a special tribunal “to punish Russia for the crime of aggression against our country.”

“This will become a signal to all ‘potential’ aggressors that they must value peace or the world will hold them accountable,” he said.

Referring to the UN charter, as President Biden did so a few hours earlierZelenskyy asked for more military and financial support.

“We did not cause this war,” he said. “We held 88 rounds of talks in different formats to prevent this war, just from the beginning of my presidency until February 24 this year.”

But instead of finding a way forward, Russia, he said, has launched “full-scale” aggression.

“Russia wants war. It’s true. But Russia will not be able to stop the flow of history. Humanity and international law are stronger than a terrorist state,” he said. “Russia will be forced to end this war. The war it started.”

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