Statement by H.E. Mr. Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, at the UN General Assembly 11th Emergency Special session

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22 February 2023

Mr. President,

Distinguished representatives,

One year since the Russian Federation began its full-scale aggression against Ukraine is approaching.

I stood here, at this esteemed place, exactly one year ago. This was February 23, 2022. A massive Russian force hung over Ukraine, preparing to deal a devastating blow to my country and wipe it off the face of the world map.

The first strikes hit the country early in the morning.

Ukraine exercised its legitimate right to self-defense, enshrined in the UN Charter. The Ukrainian people made a choice to fight for their lives. Against all odds, we were able to stop the much stronger aggressor and kick him out of half of the newly occupied territory. But even after failing so badly and losing so many, Russia still wants to destroy Ukraine as a nation. No one should be fooled by Russia’s empty calls for negotiations. The current situation on the frontlines proves they want war, not peace. They are on the attack all along the front line, from the Dnipro River to the Russian border. They keep striking Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure with salvos of cruise missiles and drones.

This is why we have no choice but to keep fighting for our survival. As any of you would do. The world has seen terrible atrocities committed by Russians in the occupied territories. Murder of unarmed civilians, torture and rape, looting, terror, political persecution, indiscriminate shelling, as well as deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure. Forcible transfers and deportations of thousands of Ukrainian children and their consequent adoption in Russian families in order to “re-educate” them as Russians. This is genocide.

And this is what we face today. For Ukraine, giving up would mean that such atrocities would be committed all over our territory. I am sure any nation represented in this esteemed chamber would do the same in our place.

I know that some still think or even say, “We want to be friends with both, Ukraine and Russia; let it all just end sooner with whatever result.” I can understand that.

The problem is that in this war, there are no two sides. There is an aggressor and a victim. I understand that there are still some countries that do not want to take Ukraine’s side for various reasons. Well, take the side of the UN Charter, then. Take the side of international law. Take the side of UN General Assembly resolutions. These are our common rules. We are all interested in upholding them. With the exception of the Russian Federation, which thinks that rules do not apply to it.

We are all talking about peace today. But what is peace? The freedom of the occupier to rule over the land he has ravaged? Or impunity for war criminals? A respite and a chance to prepare for a new war and new crimes?

We will worsen the problem if we replace one ugly reality with another and call it peace. True peace came in 1945, not because the forces of good stopped fighting, but because evil was defeated.

Peace means justice. Three months ago, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined our vision for ensuring comprehensive, just, and long-term peace in Ukraine as well as global security – the Peace Formula.

This plan is based on ten points: (1) radiation and nuclear safety; (2) food security; (3) energy security; (4) release of prisoners and deported persons; (5) implementation of the UN Charter to restore territorial sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders; (6) withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities; (7) restoration of justice, including with the creation of a special tribunal; (8) prevention of ecocide; (9) prevention of escalation of war and repetition of aggression; and (10) confirmation of the end of the war.

This vision is realistic and true to the facts. It covers all areas where peace needs to be restored. It addresses the real needs and challenges faced by the people who suffer from this war.

Each of these steps can be implemented if there is a strong will for peace among many nations and if we all unite our efforts around the same goal. Instead of hiding behind the mask of neutrality, let’s choose the side of the UN Charter and international law.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Never in recent history has the line between good and evil been so clear. One country merely wants to live. The other wants to kill and destroy. There is no other country in the world that wants peace as much as Ukraine does. We never wanted war and never planned to attack anyone. Our troops do not stand on anyone else’s land. We exercise our legitimate right to self-defense. We know what we are fighting for. We are defending our land, our families, and our homes. Can anyone tell what Russians die for in a foreign land?

This is why calls to cease delivery of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine are badly misplaced. It’s perfectly legitimate to help a nation that has been attacked and is justifiably defending itself. It is an act of defense of the UN Charter act. It is an act in favor of ending the war sooner and achieving a lasting and just peace. On the contrary, it is illegal and against the Charter to give military help to the aggressor. It is an act of war escalation and prolongation of atrocities, destruction and sufferings.

The principle of territorial integrity can not be compromised. Is there anyone in this room who is ready to give away one square meter of its territory to a blood-thirsty neighbor? We all know the answer. There is none. And Ukraine is definitely one of you.

The world will drown in chaos if we allow changing borders by force under the disguise of political expediency or sympathy towards aggressors.

With the support of the world, Ukraine can restore its territorial integrity and respect for the UN Charter. This will discourage Russia and other aggressors from wanting to attack other nations.

To achieve this noble goal, we need to send a strong and clear message that the UN Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, should serve as the basis for the process of peaceful resolution.

I therefore call on members of the United Nations to support the draft resolution entitled “Principles underlying a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine.” The aforementioned resolution will contribute to our joint efforts to bring the war to an end as well as protect the fundamental principles of international law and the UN Charter.

Exactly a year ago I was standing here appealing to the nations united in this hall on the need to prevent war. A year after, against all odds, Ukraine is effectively defending itself against a much stronger enemy and I appeal to you: this is a decisive moment to show support, unity, and solidarity. This is the moment to prove that you stand for the UN Charter.

Thank you for your attention.

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