Ukraine’s top diplomat tells skeptics at the UN that his country will win the war

UNITED NATIONS — Ukraine’s foreign minister told skeptics who believe Ukraine cannot win the war with Russia that they will be proven wrong on Friday: “Ukraine will win the war.”

Speaking before the United Nations on the eve of the second anniversary of the Russian invasion, Dmytro Kuleba urged the world’s nations to stand with Ukraine. If they do, he said, victory will come “sooner rather than later.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia responded by repeating Moscow’s claim that Moscow had not caused the conflict. He accused the West of fomenting this, accused Ukraine of being an instrument of Western geopolitical ambitions, and promised that Russia’s “special military operation” will not end until its objectives are achieved.

These goals – set on February 24, 2022, the day Russian troops crossed the border – include demilitarizing Ukraine and ensuring its “neutral status.”

The UN General Assembly and Security Council are marking the anniversary with ministerial meetings, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for more US military aid and Russian forces make new gains in eastern Ukraine.

The General Assembly has become the main UN body dealing with Ukraine because the Security Council, charged with maintaining international peace and security, has been paralyzed by Russia’s veto. Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, unlike Security Council resolutions, but serve as a barometer of global opinion.

In his address to the 193-member assembly, Kuleba recalled that more than 140 countries supported resolutions supporting Ukraine and calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops. But, he said, “Moscow’s goal is to destroy Ukraine and they are quite open about that.”

He said the countries now saying that Ukraine should negotiate with Russia and end the war are either “ill informed” or have not followed events after 2014, when Russia seized Crimea and an armed uprising in eastern Ukraine supported. The two countries, he said, held about 200 rounds of negotiations and concluded 20 ceasefire agreements.

“All these peace efforts ended two years ago, when Russia tore up the Minsk process and launched a full-scale invasion,” Kuleba said. “Why would anyone today suggest that following the same logic will get us a different result?”

Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace plan is “the only serious peace proposal on the table,” Kuleba said, calling on other countries to add their diplomatic weight. The plan calls for expelling Russian troops, establishing a special tribunal to prosecute alleged Russian war crimes and building a Euro-Atlantic security architecture with guarantees for Ukraine.

When Russia invaded, diplomats and experts did not believe Ukraine would survive. Speaking to reporters, Kuleba said he wanted to make one point clear.

“Today the same people do not believe that Ukraine can win this war,” he said. ‘They’ve gone wrong once, and they’ll go wrong again. Ukraine survived the invasion. Ukraine will win the war. And if we act collectively and collectively, this will happen sooner rather than later.”

Nebenzia disapproved of Zelensky’s plan.

“It is nothing but an ultimatum to Russia and an attempt to lure as many countries as possible into endless meetings about this utopian project at any cost,” he said.

At the General Assembly, where representatives of 64 countries will speak, there was strong support for Ukraine.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he acknowledged there is a sense of war fatigue and that compromise seems attractive, but he said Russian President Vladimir Putin is not looking for a compromise.

“This is more of a neo-imperialist bully who believes that might is right,” he said. “If Putin somehow won, the rest of the world would suffer too. What starts in Ukraine would not end there.”

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told the meeting: “Only our determination can deter the neo-imperialist delusions that may emerge in any part of the world.”

“We must stay the course until Mr Putin understands that the days of European imperialism are over forever,” he said.

Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said his government will organize a high-level peace conference by the summer at the request of Ukraine. He invited all countries to attend and work “to find a common basis for peace” based on the UN Charter and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Neither the meeting nor the council took any action to celebrate the anniversary. But before the council meeting, Kuleba, surrounded by their ministers and ambassadors, read out a statement from more than fifty countries condemning Russia’s aggression, its “blatant violation of international law” and its attacks on civilians and the infrastructure they need to to survive were convicted. “that may constitute war crimes.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres briefed the council, saying that Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine was a violation of the UN Charter and international law, and that, two years later, “the war in Ukraine remains an open wound in the heart of Europe.”

He called the invasion “a dangerous precedent” and emphasized that newly independent countries in Africa did not change borders set by colonial powers “with the stroke of a pen” because they knew this would open “a Pandora’s box.”

The UN chief said the path to peace is respect for the UN Charter’s underlying principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, warning that the war is deepening geopolitical divisions.

“The danger of the conflict escalating and spreading is very real,” he said.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun, whose country is a Russian ally, said Beijing respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and all other countries, and urged greater peace efforts. He also stressed that “the legitimate security interests of all countries” must be respected, and criticized NATO’s eastern expansion – which Moscow has strongly opposed.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told the Security Council: “Putin makes it clear every day, every hour… that he does not want to negotiate peace. He wants to complete his conquest.”

And US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that through all Russia’s lies, Putin has tried to rewrite history, justify the unjustified, break the will of the Ukrainian people and the will of the international community.

“We can’t let that happen,” she said.