Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations to deliver his customary speech on Russian terrorism. It was his first speech from this rostrum.
This year, four of the five permanent members of the Security Council did not send their heads of state or government: China, France, the UK and Russia. Clearly, despite the rhetoric, something has gone wrong in this institution.
Let’s summarize President Zelensky’s speech:
“Russia uses food as a weapon against the rest of the world and the “game”, in its favor, of certain European countries. It also uses civilian nuclear reactors as weapons, as it is doing at Zaporijha. It has abducted “hundreds of thousands” of Ukrainian children, who are being re-educated at home in hatred of Ukraine, which constitutes “genocide”. Russia provokes a war every decade. Today, it threatens Kazakhstan and the Baltic states. Many seats in this hemicycle would be empty if Russia were to achieve its objectives through its acts of treachery. Thank God nobody has yet imagined how to use the climate as a weapon. Natural disasters kill. They happen while Moscow has decided to kill tens of thousands of people. We must unite against these challenges. We can breathe new life into the “Rules-Based World Order” by building on the Ukrainian peace formula that I will be presenting to the Security Council shortly. I invite you all to the Peace Summit we are organizing. We can’t rely on Russia’s word: ask Prigozhin if he keeps his promises! Slava Ukraini!”
All the delegations allied with the United States applauded the speech loud and clear, while the others kept a low profile.
This speech calls for several comments:
– The argument of using food as a weapon refers to sieges to starve populations, as in North Korea yesterday or Yemen today. This is not at all what the Russians are doing in Ukraine, where they are attacking the profits of the major US corporations (Cargill, Dupont and Monsanto) which own a third of Ukrainian crops. The use of civilian nuclear power plants as a weapon of war must be understood as having an effect only at close range. The Russians occupy the Zaporijha plant and would lose their soldiers in the event of radiation. On the contrary, it is the Ukrainian forces who are threatening them with radiation in order to expel them. Finally, Russia has never abducted Ukrainian children, but has protected them from the combat zones by moving them within its territory. The International Criminal Court’s condemnation is based exclusively on the refusal to consider the accession of Crimea, Donbass and part of Novorossia to the Russian Federation as legal.
– The argument of Russian expansionism may frighten the Kazakhs and Balts, but it’s nothing more than a trial of intent. Returning to the possible use of climate as a weapon shows an ignorance of history. The USA already used it in their war against Viet Nam, making rain for months on the Ho Chi Min trail, the Vietcong’s supply route through the Laotian jungle (Operation “Popeye”). Eventually, they signed the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques.
– To claim, without naming them, that Poland, Hungary and Slovakia are playing into the Russians’ hands by banning the import of Ukrainian grain at knock-down prices is an insult to these countries. Poland, which, forgetting the massacre of over 100,000 Poles by Ukrainian integral nationalists during the Second World War, has nevertheless welcomed 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees since the start of the current war, will appreciate this.
– The call to defend the “rules-based World Order” can only be taken as a challenge to the majority of UN members who are fighting, on the contrary, for a return to International Law. The Ukrainian peace plan therefore concerns only the Western camp and aims to extend the war.
– President Zelenski’s conclusion refers to a poem by Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). The expression “Slava Ukraini!” had become the cry of recognition of the Ukrainian integral nationalists of Dmitry Dontsov and Simon Petlioura during the war against the Soviet revolution, when they massacred the Jews and anarchists of Novorussia. Then it became the victory cry of the Ukrainian integral nationalists of Dmitry Dontsov and Stepan Bandera when they massacred Jews, Gypsies and Resistance fighters. Finally, in 1941, it became the equivalent of “Heil Hitler! Its use today, especially at the United Nations, refers back to the post-war resolutions against Nazi propaganda, which Ukraine now opposes.
The Security Council meeting that followed was scheduled to last two days. In addition to the Council members, 45 states had asked to speak.
The rotating presidency fell to Albania. Albania had decided to have the Ukrainian President speak immediately after the UN Secretary General and before the Council members. It had also included the OSCE among the speakers.
As soon as the debates opened, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov raised a point of order. He challenged the privilege granted to the Ukrainian President in violation of the Council’s rules of procedure, and demanded that the representative of North Macedonia speak as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE only on the subject for which he had been mandated by that organization. The Albanian Chairman of the meeting, Edi Rama, after scoffing at this “grandiose” point of order, replied that there were already precedents for interventions before the Council members (although all were accepted unanimously). He concluded by observing that all Russia had to do to prevent the Ukrainian President from speaking first was to withdraw from Ukraine. In accordance with Article 33 of the Rules of Procedure, he referred the point of order to a later discussion.
Sergei Lavrov took the blow. He did not leave the room. He remembered that, during the Korean War, the USSR walked out of the United Nations debates to protest the presence of Chiang Kai-shek’s rebels instead of Mao Zedong’s men, but Washington took advantage of the situation to get the international community to vote in favor of aid to South Korea against North Korea.
Be that as it may, this incident attests to the partiality of the Albanian presidency and cannot go unchallenged. Albania has every right to be an outspoken opponent of Russia (it organized an Aria-style debate on Russian child abductions). But it violates the rules every time it presides over the Council. This was already the case on June 28, 2022. On its own initiative, it convened a meeting on the situation in Ukraine, without consulting the Council members. It invited President Zelensky to attend, authorizing him “exceptionally” to speak by videoconference. It also held a minute’s silence, without reference to Council members.
The following day, June 29, 2022, it chaired a meeting on the situation in Syria. On its own initiative, and without consulting Council members, it invited a US association, the Syrian Emergency Task Force, which expressed itself rudely and insulted several Council members.
The debate continued with a speech by Secretary General António Guterres. He began by pointing out that some multilateral meetings, such as the one on the plan to safeguard the Sustainable Development Goals, are held efficiently. He then described Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and international law. On the judicial front, he reported that investigative teams were continuing to gather evidence of shocking and widespread human rights violations “mainly perpetrated by the Russian Federation”, including the forced transfer of children. Finally, he welcomed the agreement on cereals and regretted that Russia had not renewed it.
The Secretary General’s position expresses only his personal opinion. In this case, it is not based on any judicial decision and does not take into account the Russian position. The trial currently underway before the International Court of Justice, i.e. the UN’s internal tribunal, will hear both sides. It will be for the Court alone to judge whether there has been a violation of the Charter, as Russia claims to have launched a special military operation to comply with Security Council Resolution 2202 (“Minsk agreements”). In any case, the Court will only rule on one question: whether or not Ukraine was massacring its own citizens before the Russian special military operation. We are talking about 20,000 citizens.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then intervened. He began his speech by asking how a state that violates the UN Charter can sit on the Security Council? He noted that the General Assembly had recognized that Russia, not Ukraine, was responsible for the war. He then presented his 10-point peace plan. This plan, which had already been presented to the G20 in Bali, does not take Russia’s demands into account. So, strictly speaking, it’s not a peace plan, but rather Ukraine’s demands. In passing, he asked the General Assembly to adopt, by a two-thirds majority, a modification of its statutes and deprive Russia of its right of veto. Finally, he called on all States present to participate in the “peace” conference that his country was organizing.
The session chairman, Edi Rama, wondered about the current situation: a member of the Security Council is violating the UN Charter! Fortunately, despite the abusive use of its veto power, the majority of Council members ensure that its values are respected. He then gave the floor to Council members in the order of their registration.
Their speeches added nothing new. None of them dared to take up Ukraine’s call for Russia to be stripped of its veto power. A little backtracking is in order here: when the United Nations was created, Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States and Winston Churchill of Great Britain were at odds with Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union. The USA and the UK wanted to create an organization that would govern the world according to their own conceptions, while the USSR wanted it to uphold international law and prevent war. It was the Soviet conception that triumphed. The right of veto takes into account the military reality of the time. There is no such thing as a legitimate or abusive veto. Quite simply, international law cannot be respected by all if it runs counter to the interests of one of its most powerful members. The idea of depriving Russia of its veto power had never been expressed in public. Last year, however, the US State Department tested the matter with all UN member states, and it proved impossible to achieve a two-thirds majority.
After his speech, President Zelensky left the room, having no time to waste listening to the other delegations. He rushed off to Washington to address Congress, as he had already done in December 2022. However, when he arrived on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told him straight out that it was out of the question. Parliamentarians have too busy an agenda,” he said. Dejected, the Ukrainian president had to content himself with a meeting with the presidents of the two chambers and a few Democratic senators.
The time for unconditional support is over. Like all their Western counterparts, US parliamentarians have realized that: – ammunition is in short supply, and the Western arms industry cannot compete with Russia’s in either the short or medium term; – the rebellion of Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin against the Kremlin has failed; – the Ukrainian counter-offensive has been extremely deadly, with over a thousand people killed every day for the past two weeks, without achieving any significant successes.
Many would therefore like to negotiate a way out of the crisis or, at the very least, stop spending astronomical sums of money for nothing. Some Republicans have written to the Biden administration asking for a precise account of how the funds already disbursed have been used. Pending a response, they will not vote for another dollar. The Pentagon is therefore devising ways to divert equipment and continue the US commitment to Ukraine. It is hiding behind the possibility of blocking the federal budget in the event of a substantive disagreement between Capitol Hill and the White House.
To make up for the parliamentary affront, both the Secretary of Defense and President Joe Biden granted the Ukrainian president an interview. He also visited a university, the Clinton Foundation and the Atlantic Council, and chatted with the heads of financial companies. But the fact remains: everyone has observed President Zelensky’s outrages and his inability to win this war. Everyone has now been able to verify that Volodomyr Zelensky is not trying to defend his country. On the contrary, he is sending his men to die for nothing in front of the Russian defense line. He’s acting just as hard-line nationalists and Nazis always did: he doesn’t hesitate to lie to his own people, to cheat, and to use every means at his disposal to provoke a general confrontation at the cost of sacrificing his own people.
Source: Voltaire Network