Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in person at the United Nations on Tuesday, accusing Russia of weaponizing everything from food supplies to nuclear power in its desperation to conquer his country.
“When hatred is used as a weapon against a nation, it never stops there,” Zelenskyy told the United Nations General Assembly during Tuesday’s session of the high-level week.
“The goal of the current war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you – against the rules-based international order,” he added.
“Since the start of the full-scale war, Ukrainian Black and Azov ports have been blocked by Russia,” he said. “So far, our ports on the Danube have remained a target for missiles and drones, and this is clearly a Russian attempt to weaponize food shortages on the global market in exchange for recognition of ‘some, if not all, of the captured territories.’
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Last year, the United Nations brokered a deal between the warring nations to secure the vital grain trade, with Ukraine and Russia accounting for about 25 percent of the world’s wheat, hence Ukraine’s nickname ” granary of Europe”.
In the summer of 2023, Moscow announced that it had ended the agreement, then attacked Ukrainian ports a day later in “massive revenge strikes” that Russia said would make up for Kiev’s attacks on the bridges connecting the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has held since its first incursion in 2014.
Russia particularly focused its attacks on Odessa, where it destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture.
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Zelensky once again spoke about Russia’s ongoing campaign of kidnappings of Ukrainian children, which laid the groundwork for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin .
The US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, revealed in July last year that the US had information that in that month alone, “Thousands” of children had been transferred from Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine to Russia itself.
Zelensky pleaded with the UN on Tuesday: “What will happen to them?
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“These children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are severed. And this is clearly genocide,” Zelensky said, reiterating that hatred against a country “never stops” and that Russia will continue its campaign against the others. country if it succeeds in Ukraine.
“Parts of Moldova and Georgia remain occupied,” he added. “Russia has reduced Syria to rubble, and without Russia, chemical weapons would never have been used in Syria.”
“Russia has almost swallowed Belarus,” he continued. “This obviously threatens Kazakhstan and other Baltic states, and the aim of the current war against Ukraine is to turn our lands, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you – again, against the “rules-based international order.”
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“Many seats in the UN General Assembly Hall could become empty if Russia succeeds in its betrayal and aggression,” he stressed.
Russia will have the opportunity to address the General Assembly on Saturday when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to take the podium. Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky sat in Russia’s seat during Zelensky’s speech.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.