Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked the United Nations to punish Russia for the aggressive war against his country. "A crime was committed against Ukraine," Zelensky said in a video message to the UN General Assembly in New York. Russia must be punished for the killing, torture, humiliation and disastrous turmoil it has thrown Ukraine into. In his view, a special tribunal should be set up for this purpose. There can be no neutral attitude in the conflict: whoever speaks of neutrality when human values and peace are attacked is in fact indifferent.
The Russian war of aggression dominates this year's general debate at the UN General Assembly. Selensky was the only one of more than 140 heads of state and government who spoke there via video message. He had received an exemption from the board because of the Russian war of aggression. He received enthusiastic applause for his speech. This rarely happens in the General Assembly. Representatives from most of the 193 member states rose and clapped for almost a minute. The Russian side, on the other hand, remained seated.
Zelensky used his speech to call for further military support for his country from the international community. "We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory, we can do it with weapons, but we need time," Zelensky said after Ukrainian troops were able to recapture large areas from the occupying forces in recent weeks. More support is needed for both defense and attack, and more financial help is also needed.
Zelensky also called for further visa restrictions for Russian citizens. They should not be able to travel to other countries for shopping and vacations, he demanded. Ukraine also wants to implement an international compensation mechanism and hopes for the support of the United Nations. "Russia should pay for this war with its wealth," he said.
With an urgent warning about the situation at the contested Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia, Zelensky made it clear that the war was not just a danger to his own country. With its six reactors and a net output of 5,700 megawatts, it is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and has been under Russian control since March.
"Russia wants war"
Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for shelling the facility. An accumulation of incidents that led to the shutdown of reactors and power outages had increased international concern about a nuclear catastrophe. The Russian actions there "make you all a target," Zelensky said. The "Russian radiation blackmail is something that should concern every single one of you" because no one will have a vaccine against radiation sickness.
There are several conditions for peace that are non-negotiable, Zelensky said. In addition to punishing Russia, these included Ukraine's territorial integrity and security guarantees. His country's neutrality is out of the question. According to the Ukrainian President, Russia is not seriously interested in peace talks. "They talk about the talks, but they announce a military mobilization. They talk about the talks, but they announce mock referendums," said Zelensky, referring to the recent announcements by the Russian leadership around President Vladimir Putin. His conclusion: "Russia wants war."