By Cecilia Ologungaba
New York, Feb. 23, 2022
The President of the 76th Session of UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, on Wednesday, urged member states to prioritise diplomacy, good offices, and mediation in solving the Ukraine crisis.
Shahid told a General Assembly session dedicated to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine that the parties should intensify their negotiations and deescalate the current trajectory through dialogue.
He told the participants that if the last 76 years of the UN’s existence has taught us anything, it is that that “lasting peace is not achieved nor sustained by military engagements, but through political solutions.”
“I call on the parties to intensify their negotiations and deescalate the current trajectory through dialogue,” Shahid said.
He reminded the global community that the impetus for the creation of the United Nations were inscribed in the first words of the United Nations Charter – “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that while hope for peace, common sense, and diplomacy dominated Ukrainian mindsets, “today we need much more than hope”.
“We need swift, concrete, and resolute actions” relevant to the threat level of “Russia’s aggressive course.”
He spoke on behalf of more than 40 million Ukrainians who wish is to live in peace and prosperity, “not in fear, intimidation, not under Russian fire, bombs and shelling.”
Unlike the Second World War, Kuleba pointed out, the current crisis was created by one side unilaterally – Russia.
The foreign minister attested that Russian President Vladmir Putin “overtly denied Ukraine’s right to exist”, saying that “we all need to admit the grim reality of a new aggressive and revanchist dictatorship rising over Europe”.
He asserted that Russia has attacked the UN’s fundamental principles of international peace and security and “the very existence of the Ukrainian State”.
“What is happening right now in the Eastern Ukraine, where Russian tanks are rolling in, and along the Ukrainian borders, where Russian forces are amassed in enormous quantities, must be a concern for everyone,” Kuleba said.
“I warn every nation…no one will be able to sit out this crisis if Putin decides that he can move forward with his aggression against Ukraine…[which] is why we need to use this last chance for action and stop Putin where he is.
“It is clear that he will not stop by himself,” he added.
The Ukrainian official asserted that Russia’s “propaganda machine is in full swing”, creating a pretext for further aggression against his country.
“Russia has literally stuffed the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov with 46 military vessels…routinely closes large parts of the seas under the pretext of holding naval exercises [which] amounts almost to a blockade of Ukrainian seaports…and continues to block the release of illegally detained persons.”
And as the occupying power in Crimea, he upheld that Russia persists in destroying the identity of Ukrainians and the indigenous Crimean Tatars, insisting that the situation there remains open and that Ukraine continues efforts to de-occupy Crimea “by peaceful means.”
Reminding that Ukraine denuclearised in 1994, giving up the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, he said: “The world owes Ukraine its security”.
“We expect the international community to do their best to put out the fire in the centre of Europe, which is about to flare up,” he said.
“Russia must withdraw its forces from the sovereign territory of Ukraine and stop destabilising the international security situation.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, started his speech with “a clarification” that the name “temporarily occupied territories” was incorrect as the meeting is actually about “the territories lost as a result of misanthropic politics” of Ukraine.
He went on to say that with Russia’s recognition of “the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), this conflict is far from over”.
Nebenzya said that the shelling of peaceful quarters of both have not stopped and that Kiev remains armed and continues to incite and encouraged violence.
He warned that at the request of Donetsk and Lugansk, Russia would continue to monitor the regime ceasefire and that its armed forces would not tolerate violators.
“Therefore, I urge you today to focus your efforts on calming down Kiev and keeping it from new military adventures that could cost the whole of Ukraine dearly,” the Ambassador said
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 86 speakers are expected to speak at the special session.
The meeting was opened by the President of the General Assembly Abdulla Shahid.
The first national speaker was the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba. Followed by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, in his role as Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
Tobias Lindner, Germany’s Minister of State then took the podium.