It has been almost 19 months since Russia started a brutal war of aggression against its sovereign neighbour Ukraine.
Tens of thousands of soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed. Countless Ukrainian children have been abducted.
Russian troops have murdered, raped and tortured.
They are razing towns and villages to the ground.
They are mining entire regions, turning cornfields into death traps.
This war is taking place in Europe.
But its repercussions are felt throughout the world.
Russia has deliberately removed millions of tons of grain and fertiliser from the world market, which countries around the globe need to guarantee food security.
Russia is deliberately targeting grain silos and port infrastructure.
And Russia has withdrawn unilaterally from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, triggering more poverty and more food insecurity all over the world.
There is no justification for that.
Any claims that sanctions are hampering Russian exports of crops and fertiliser are false. There are no sanctions impeding such exports. On the contrary, Russia dominates the global fertiliser market. 2022 was a record year for Russian wheat exports.
The reason for the continued suffering in Ukraine and around the world is shockingly simple:
Russia’s President wants to follow through with his imperialistic plan to conquer his sovereign neighbour Ukraine.
The United Nations has expressed very clearly what it thinks of Russia’s war of aggression, most recently on 23 February of this year.
The General Assembly called for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
This demand is directed at Russia. It remains unanswered.
Nothing rings out louder today than Russia’s silence in response to this global call for peace.
Some argue that this war could have been prevented by diplomatic means.
In fact, France and Germany have held hundreds of meetings with Moscow and Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s attack on Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Our aim was to find a diplomatic solution that is in line with international law. All these endeavours failed because one party – Russia – chose war over diplomacy.
But there has been no lack of diplomatic efforts!
Some speakers before me have called for an immediate ceasefire.
I acknowledge their good intentions. We all want an end to the killing –today rather than tomorrow.
And yet we must beware of seemingly easy solutions that promise peace in name only.
Peace without freedom is oppression. Peace without justice is a diktat.
In the resolutions of the General Assembly we have laid out the path towards peace:
Peace means respecting the UN Charter.
Peace means respecting the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine.
That is the promise the UN Charter gives to every UN Member State.
No one longs for peace more than the Ukrainians.
The peace plan that the Ukrainian President has laid out before us once again today is proof of that.
The recent meetings in Copenhagen and Jeddah were important – this work should be continued.
It should be continued in the pursuit of one goal: finding peace that respects the principles of the UN Charter.
The more decisively we rally behind these principles,
the more determined we are in pushing for a just peace,
and the more united we are in our rejection of Russian aggression, the sooner this war will end.
The sooner the human suffering will end – in Ukraine and around the world.
This goal is worth our utmost efforts.