Nine years after the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and 500 days after its invasion of Ukraine, the General Assembly met today to intensify its call for a peaceful end to a conflict that has killed and injured tens of thousands of people while scattering 6 million refugees across Europe and displacing millions more within Ukraine.
Many Assembly delegates urged each other to intensify efforts to bring both parties to the negotiating table, the only place where a war like this can end, just a day after the Russian Federation heightened food insecurity for millions of people by pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, said a political solution, founded upon the Charter of the United Nations and international law, that restores Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, will end this war. “This war, like all wars, will end,” he said. “That it will end with a sovereign and independent Ukraine, and a sovereign and independent Russia. And that the Russian Federation and Ukraine will coexist as neighbours, as Member States within the same multilateral system.”
Argentina’s delegate called on all parties involved to return to the negotiating table. Her delegation is committed to the peaceful resolution of international disputes, observing: “It is only in this way that we guarantee just and lasting solutions.” Evidence suggests that there is stunted progress across various mediation attempts and she appealed for the resumption of political dialogue to calm tensions.
The representative of Liechtenstein said his country condemns all attempts to annex any part of Ukraine, noting that the Russian Federation’s full-scale aggression has only increased the importance of Crimea to Ukraine’s territorial integrity. “We must take an honest look at our past actions and omissions in this respect, as well as their consequences,” he stressed, underscoring that the Assembly’s meek response to the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 has helped create the conditions for the full-scale invasion in 2022.
Albania’s delegate echoed that sentiment and recalled that, in 2008, as it tried to recover from the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s fall, the Russian Federation occupied Georgia’s territory in a short, but brutal war. Six years later, “Russia would go again hunting, and its appetite would grow”, he said, observing that, in Crimea, Moscow planted its flag and said: “It’s mine.”
Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, stated that no figures can help people comprehend what is going on in his country. The Russian Federation does not mind the suffering of children “to achieve its sick political goals”, he stressed. The invasion has deprived 7.5 million Ukrainian children of their normal lives, displacing two thirds of them, killing at least 494 and injuring 1,052. In addition, the Russian Federation continues the mass abduction and deportation of children and Ukraine has identified 19,474 illegally transferred children, with only 383 returned and reunited with their families.
A further 8,800 civilians have become victims of enforced disappearances, with over 10,000 people considered missing. With no other modern conflict having seen such crimes on such a scale, he called for a new international instrument for punishing the abduction of civilians, further rejecting all calls for “fake pacifism” or territorial concessions for the illusion of peace.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that, if the “regime” that came to power in 2014 had not declared war on everything Russian and had not sent its forces to the east of the country, “we would not be discussing the Ukrainian crisis”. The 2014 coup was stage-managed by Western countries to make Ukraine “anti-Russia”, to arm it and to shift the conflict into a “hot phase”, he said, adding that the interest of the West lies in pitting two fraternal peoples against one another in the “colonial tradition” to prevent the Russian Federation’s re‑emergence as a global Power and delay a new multipolar world. He also pointed out that now Moscow has to solve the “special military operation’s” tasks by demilitarizing and “denazifying” the Kyiv “regime” to ensure that “never again there will be a threat to our country and our citizens, stemming from Ukraine”.
Syria’s delegate said regional and international conflicts should be settled through peaceful means and he rejected the negative trend of using the Assembly platform to engage in political polarization. The situation in Ukraine cannot be viewed apart from the security and political situation following the 2014 coup d’état and apart from the policies Ukraine has pursued vis-à-vis the Russian Federation, especially the principle of good neighbourliness. Western and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) policies have inflamed the conflict and exacerbated the humanitarian situation, he said, adding that these States turned a blind eye to the inhumane practices against the residents of Donbass.
Switzerland’s delegate urged the Russian Federation to abandon the elections announced for September in the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions, and voiced concerned over the humanitarian, ecological and economic consequences of the Kakhovka Dam’s destruction, especially on water supply in southern Ukraine. “Let us act to make comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine a reality,” she emphasized.
The General Assembly will next meet at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 July , to take up the use of the veto by a permanent member of the Security Council at its 11 July meeting on the agenda item “Situation in the Middle East”.