Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly : Anniversary of Russia's attack on Ukraine, New York, 23 February 2023

23.02.2023 - Speech

45 seconds. 45 seconds - to get your grandmother to safety. 45 seconds - to make it to the basement. 45 seconds…. that's how long it takes for missiles from Russia to hit the city of Kharkiv after you hear the sirens.

I met teenagers in Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine for whom counting to 45 has become part of their daily lives. Teenagers, grandmothers, fathers - who want nothing more … than for this war to end. To have peace.

Russia's war of aggression has not only brought terrible suffering to the people of Ukraine. This war has opened gaping wounds across the world. Families on all continents who cannot make ends meet because of rising food and energy prices.

I think all of them – and most of us here - agree on one simple thing: We want this suffering to stop. In Ukraine. And worldwide. We want this war to end. We want peace.

And the good thing is: we do have a peace plan right here in front of us. It’s called - the Charter of the United Nations. Its principles, which apply to every state, are very simple: Sovereign equality. Territorial integrity. And the non-use of force.

That’s why the road to peace is also very clear: Russia must withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Russia must stop the bombing. Russia must return to the U.N. Charter.

Each and every one of us here today has an opportunity to contribute to this peace plan. By telling the aggressor to stop. By making clear that it’s not peace - if an aggressor tells its victim to simply give up. That it’s not peace - if an aggressor is rewarded for its ruthless violence. This would run counter to the very essence of our U.N. Charter. It would not mean peace but more violence. That’s why we’re supporting Ukraine in its right to defend itself, as enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Some of you just said that by arming Ukraine, we are adding fuel to the fire.

Let me ask you very honestly: Why on earth would we want to do that?

We did not want this war. We did not choose this war. We, too, would much rather focus every bit of our energy and our money on fixing our schools, on fighting the climate crisis, on strengthening social justice.

But the truth is: If Russia stops fighting, this war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.

The human suffering would continue: abduction, rape, torture. Children counting to 45 every single day to save their lives. The war’s global trail of devastation would continue: inflation, energy shortages, hunger.

That’s why today’s vote is about all our futures:

Today, each and every one of us has to choose:

To stand isolated with the oppressor - or to unite for peace. To stay silent - or to protect our U.N. Charter. So that the Charter can protect us.

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