Ukraine’s foreign minister appealed to the international community Wednesday to stand by his country one year into Russia’s war against his nation.
“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,” Dmytro Kuleba told a special emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly called to mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion. “This is the moment to prove that you stand for the U.N. Charter.”
The assembly will consider a draft resolution submitted by Ukraine underscoring the urgency to find “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in line with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Kyiv and its allies hope for strong numbers in the vote planned for Thursday to signal to Moscow that international support remains strong with Ukraine a year into the conflict. Nearly 70 countries have co-sponsored the text.
“We need to send a strong and clear message that the U.N. Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states, should serve as the basis for the process of peaceful resolution,” Kuleba said.
He reminded the assembly that Ukraine is exercising its right to self-defense and fighting for its survival.
“No one should be fooled by Russia’s empty calls for negotiations,” the foreign minister warned. “The current situation on the front lines 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.”
Russia’s envoy urged countries to vote against the draft resolution, which he characterized as “emptied out” of substance and “divorced from reality.” He said if it is adopted, it would be used by the Kyiv regime and the West in their anti-Russian propaganda campaign against Moscow.
“Do we have any reason to trust the statements being made by Western representatives today when they say that they want peace?” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia asked. He said the West had shown “its true colors” and its goal to arm Ukraine in order to inflict “strategic defeat” on Russia and “to dismember and destroy it.”
Nebenzia insisted that Moscow is not obstructing peace.
“We are ready for a search for a serious and long-term diplomatic solution. We have stated this on many occasions,” he said. “Our opponents have not yet recovered from their futile illusions that they could defeat a nuclear power.”
U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution under consideration would promote diplomacy, dialogue and a lasting peace in Ukraine.
“Colleagues, this vote will go down in history. On the one-year anniversary of this conflict, we will see where the nations of the world stand on the matter of peace in Ukraine,” she said.
Speaking of her own trip to Ukraine late last year, Thomas-Greenfield said it was “hard to overstate how much unnecessary anguish and pain President [Vladimir] Putin has caused.”
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reaffirmed his position that Russia’s invasion is illegal and violates the U.N. Charter. He reiterated the organization’s commitment to the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders.”
Guterres has visited the country twice since the invasion a year ago. In the absence of an opening for peace talks, he has sought to use his good offices to alleviate some of the global consequences of the conflict, including getting grain and fertilizer out of both Ukraine and Russia to world markets, and to seek de-escalation around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
“While prospects may look bleak today, we must all work knowing that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the U.N. Charter and international law,” Guterres said. “The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be.”