Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky unveiled a plan to end the nearly seven-month war between Russia and Ukraine on Wednesday at the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York.
Ukraine President Zelensky addresses United Nations General Assembly
“Russia wants war, it’s true, but Russia will not be able to stop the course of history,” Zelensky said.
The remarks were an implicit rebuke of non-Western and developing countries who called on Ukraine and Russia to immediately engage in a negotiated end to the conflict.
“Russia will be forced to end this war, the war it has started,” Zelensky said. “I rule out that the settlement can happen on a different basis.”
Scores of nonaligned countries this week maintained a neutral position on the conflict — a stand Zelensky described as only seeking to “protect their vested interests.”
The remarks earned a rare standing ovation from world leaders in the UN General Assembly who earlier voted to allow Zelensky to address the body remotely by a 101-7 count — a privilege denied to other world leaders. The Russian delegation remained seated after Zelensky’s remarks, along with delegations from Namibia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
Zelensky chided the seven countries that voted against his request, saying they were “afraid of a video address.”
As a part of his plan, Zelensky said a special tribunal should be formed to punish Russia. He also said the Kremlin should lose the veto power it enjoys as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Zelensky said the entire international community wants peace except for Russia.
“Ukraine wants peace, Europe wants peace, the world wants peace, and we have seen who is the only one who wants war,” he said, not mentioning Russian President Vladimir Putin by name. “There is only one entity among all UN member states who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he’s happy with this war, with his war.”
Zelensky said Ukraine would regain its territory but that it would take time and require military force. He renewed his demands for nations to send military aid to Ukraine so that it can repel Russia’s better-equipped forces.
“We can return the Ukraine flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms, but we need time,” he said.
The speech came as Putin appeared poised to escalate the conflict, announcing referendums in four occupied regions of Ukraine on joining Russia — an apparent precursor to annexation. Putin also announced a partial mobilization order for some 300,000 reservists to join the war.