Zelensky calls for ‘punishment’ of Russia to bring an end to the war in Ukraine

·2-min read

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky called for Russia to face “punishment” for its invasion of his country in an address to the United Nations general assembly on Wednesday.

"A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment," he told the chamber in a more than fifteen minute long pre-recorded speech.

“The crime was committed against the lives of our people, against the dignity of our women and men, against the values that make you and me a community of the UN.”

“We didn’t provoke this war,” he added. “We had no choice but to defend ourselves.”

Mr Zelensky used his address to outline his “peace formula” — the conditions under which peace could be brought to Ukraine. Foremost on that agenda was Russia’s complete isolation from the world stage and removing its veto at the United Nations.

"So long as the aggressor is a party to decision-making in the international organizations, he must be isolated from them," Mr Zelensky said.

After weeks of battlefield successes in which Ukrainian troops recaptured swathes of territory held by Russia, he said his forces could "return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms. But we need time."

Mr Zelensky’s speech came a day after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservist troops and appeared to threaten nuclear strikes in response to his battlefield losses.

At the general assembly on Wednesday, Mr Putin received widespread condemnation from world leaders for his threat of escalation and continued aggression in Ukraine.

US president Joe Biden decried Russia’s “brutal, needless war.”

"A permanent member of the UN Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map," Mr Biden told the general assembly. “Just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe...the Kremlin is organizing a sham referendum to try to annex parts of Ukraine, an extremely significant violation of the UN charter.”

On Tuesday, Mr Putin announced a partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservist troops to shore up his forces in Ukraine, which have suffered a series of defeats and loss of territory in recent weeks.

Mr Putin also appeared to raise the prospect of using nuclear weapons in response to his failures in Ukraine.

“Russia will use all the instruments at its disposal to counter a threat against its territorial integrity—this is not a bluff,” Mr Putin said in a national address.