By Michelle Nichols and Gabriela Baczynska
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy implored world leaders gathered at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to stand united against Russia’s invasion and said Moscow had to be pushed back so the world could turn to solving pressing global challenges.
Zelenskiy drew applause as he took his place at the United Nations General Assembly lectern in New York for his first in-person appearance at the annual UNGA since Russia invaded his country in 2022.
“Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation,” he said. “Weaponization must be restrained, war crimes must be punished, deported people must come back home and the occupier must return to their own land.”
“We must be united to make it – and we’ll do it.”
He accused Russia of manipulating global food markets to seek international recognition of ownership of land it seized from Kyiv.
In a nod to the Global South, whose support he is seeking in his standoff with Russia, Zelenskiy spoke about the worsening climate crisis and natural disasters, mentioning the recent earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya.
“We have to stop it. We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges,” he told the General Assembly.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said nine people were killed in Russian attacks, including a drone strike that set ablaze industrial warehouses.
Zelenskiy accused Russia of kidnapping Ukrainian children.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of illegally deporting children from Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects the accusations and the court’s jurisdiction.
“Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide when hatred is weaponized against one nation,” Zelenskiy said.
Last year, Zelenskiy presented a 10-point plan that included restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders.
He said he was now working towards a peace summit based on that: “Tomorrow I will present the details at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council.”
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Howard Goller)