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Zelensky at UN: Russia's aggression poses threat beyond Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek September 19, 2023 10:50 PM 4 min read
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. (Photo credit: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19 that Russia's war against Ukraine poses a threat to global security as the Kremlin weaponizes energy and food against nations across the world.

The president stressed that by blocking Ukraine's grain exports and attacking Ukrainian ports, Russia seeks to escalate global food shortages and blackmail the world into recognizing its conquest of Ukraine's territory.

"It is a clear Russia's attempt to weaponize the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition for some if not all captured territories," Zelensky said.

The president turned his criticism also toward Kyiv's partners who continue to block Ukraine's grain imports despite the already dire situation caused by the Russian blockade.

"It is alarming to see how some of our friends in Europe play with our solidarity in a political theater," he said, adding that these nations are inadvertently "helping to set the stage for" Moscow.

Though Zelensky did not name any concrete countries, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary announced they would keep their restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports despite the EU's decision not to prolong the ban.

Just as the Kremlin weaponizes global food supplies, it does so with energy, including oil, gas, and nuclear power, Zelensky continued.

Russia is spreading its "unreliable nuclear power plant" technology abroad and uses other countries' nuclear plants as "dirty bombs," Zelensky added, referring to Russia's terrorism threats against Ukraine's occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Biden asks UN leaders to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression
U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19.

Zelensky called for the nuclear disarmament of Russia due to its aggressive behavior, commenting that "terrorists have no right to hold nuclear weapons."

The president reminded that Ukraine itself gave up its nuclear arsenal upon agreement with the world's powers in the 1990s.

Ukraine's head of state called for unity among the world's nations in countering Russian aggression.

According to Zelensky, more than 120 nations and organizations supported Kyiv's peace formula, which he said could serve as a template for future conflict resolution and ensure that the wars are solved on the terms of the defending party.

The president invited the U.N. leaders to attend the Global Peace Summit, which is to be held this fall.

Zelensky added that he is also aware of attempts at closing "shady" deals with Russia "behind the scenes," warning U.N. leaders against trusting the Kremlin.

"Evil cannot be trusted. Ask (Yevgeny) Prigozhin if one can bet on (Vladimir) Putin's promises," referring to the Wagner Group's owner who died under mysterious circumstances in a plane crash only months after making a deal with Putin to end his armed rebellion.

Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament
When the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty in July 1990 to gain greater rights and freedoms within the Soviet Union, ridding the country of nuclear weapons was one of its top priorities. Ukraine had just suffered enormously from the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear po…

The U.N. General Assembly has convened this week with Russian aggression against Ukraine as one of the points on the agenda. Shortly before Zelensky's speech, his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden delivered his own address, calling the world leaders to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Presidents of Ukraine and the U.S. are also scheduled to attend the U.N. Security Council meeting on Sept. 20 to discuss the principles of the U.N. Charter.

After his New York trip, Zelensky will head to Washington, D.C. to hold a bilateral meeting with Biden, senior members of Congress, and other American political and military leaders.

Zelensky's visit comes just as the White House seeks approval from U.S. lawmakers for $24 billion in additional funds to bolster Kyiv's struggle against Russia.

Some members of Congress grow increasingly critical of the level of support that Washington provides to Ukraine.

Zelensky has previously visited the U.S. in December 2022, meeting Biden and addressing Congress members.

Ukraine war latest: Ukrainian advances point to ‘severe degradation’ of Russian units, says ISW
Key developments on Sept. 19: * ISW: Ukrainian advances point to ‘severe degradation’ of Russian units. * UK intelligence: Russian operations near islands in Kherson Oblast likely ‘energized’ * NYT reports Ukrainian missile might have accidentally struck Kostiantynivka market, Kyiv still investi…
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