WASHINGTON: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has slammed Russia for waging war against his country, and accused Moscow of weaponizing food and energy supplies that he claims has further impoverished his and poorer nations.
Speaking during the 78th UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Zelensky pleaded for more support to face Russia, arguing that his country was at the forefront of defending the world against aggressive and powerful nations.
However, he said that “being united doesn’t guarantee peace for all nations,” and that Russia’s war against Ukraine was an attack on the “international order.”
“We must act united to defeat the aggressor,” he said. “We should establish a rule-based order.”
He said nuclear conflict was not the only danger facing the world, and that conventional warfare, while seemingly “less scary,” was equally devastating, as was the case with Ukraine.
“So the 20th century taught the world not to use nuclear weapons and not to proliferate. This is not a good strategy because recent history has shown that wars could erupt with equal devastation.”
Zelensky said Ukraine had in the 1990s given up its nuclear weapons, the fourth largest stockpile in the world, after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The decision was taken in the interest of peace, but now something needed to be done about Russia’s nuclear arms.
“History has shown that Russia deserved to be disarmed of its nuclear weapons,” he said. “And Russia deserves it now. Terrorists have no right to have nuclear weapons.”
“Russia is weaponizing food shortages in order to win recognition for some or all of the captured (Ukrainian) territory,” he said. Russia has blockaded Ukraine’s ports preventing the export of food and grain to the world, he added.
Zelensky said the world was grappling with the devastating effects of climate change, citing the recent floods in Libya and Morocco, and now has to deal with other avoidable conflicts.
“When all these things are happening, one decided to launch an unnatural disaster in Moscow and wage a big war killing tens of thousands of people,” he said.
“We have to stop it,” he added.
Zelensky said his country’s “Peace Formula” would advance global peace and prevent aggression by more powerful nations.
“We are preparing a peace summit to advance Ukraine Peace Formula to stop Russia,” he said.
Zelensky first announced his peace formula at the G20 Summit last year. The 10-point plan includes protecting Ukraine’s food exports, securing energy supplies and infrastructure, and establishing a prisoner-exchange program with Russia.
He said more than 140 nations and international organizations support Ukraine’s initiative, which seeks to restore the country’s sovereignty over territories that are under Russian control.
He added that his country has initiated consultations in Japan, Denmark and Saudi Arabia on the implementation of the plan. “We have (a) real chance to end the war and to end any aggression against any state,” he said.