Zelensky Says Peace Begins with Punishment

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    Zelensky spoke to the gathering from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and the Assembly was able to approve with a ratio of 101 to 7. Zelensky identified and slammed the seven -communist states that are Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua and Russia, along with Russian representative Bashar al-Assad's Syria, saying they were afraid of his statements. 

    Ukraine is currently enmeshed in a war that has lasted nearly nine years with Russia which began with the invasion and the colonization of the Crimea region, and also the beginning of the conflict that is currently raging in the Donbas region that is where pro-Russian separatists announced the establishment of two “sovereign” states. Then, in February of this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he would recognize Donbas's Donetsk and Luhansk “People's Republics” as states and would deploy Russian army forces into Ukraine upon their request. This would “de-Nazify” Zelensky's government. Zelensky was chosen for the position of being a “pro-Russian” candidate in a fair and free election in 2019 and has declared displeasure at being labeled as a Nazi and has emphasized his Jewish roots.

    Russia's attempts to influence Ukraine have been stalled since the bombardment of the Kyiv region in the early second half of last year. Ukrainian forces have claimed they had retaken some southern municipalities. Putin declared an unofficial military mobilization which included conscription on Wednesday with the intention of reversing what observers outside consider to be a major reduction in Russian military's performance in the field during the conflict.

    Zelensky spoke about the war in his presentation to the General Assembly through the lens of a five-point program that he believed could be used in any conflict in order to bring peace. Before revealing his plan to the world, he stressed to those who were urging Ukraine or Russia to engage in talks, that the period for diplomacy was over and that talks were indeed attempted, however they were unsuccessful.

    “We held 88 rounds of talks in various formats to prevent this war, just from the beginning of my presidency until February 24 this year,” he said.

    Zelensky said that his peace program requires significant changes within the United Nations, later questioning the rationale behind being able to have permanent representation on the Security Council for rogue states such as Russia and the ineffectiveness of U.N. agencies.

    “I will present a formula that can work not only for us, but for anyone who may find themselves in similar circumstances as we did,” he added. “It is an approach that penalizes criminals, safeguards lives, and improves the security of our nation, ensures security, and gives determination. There are five conditions to ensure peace.”

    The punishment, he said, was the initial stage in his strategy for ending conflicts.

    Zelensky demanded universal sanctions against Russia that range from prohibiting Russian tourists from entering free states, to preventing Russia from taking part in international forums like, for instance, the Security Council, also including commercial sanctions that will devastate Russia's economy. 

    “Blocking trade and dealings with the aggressor are components of the formula for peace. This is all a form of punishment. As long as the person who is at fault is involved in the decision-making process within international organizations, the aggressor must be excluded from them at least until the violence is finished,” Zelensky argued. “Reject voting rights. Deprive delegation rights. Take away the right to the veto, if it's an official member of the UN Security Council.”

    “Citizens of the aggressor state should not be allowed to enjoy tourism or shopping in the territory of those who value peace, but should be encouraged through visa restrictions to fight against the aggression of their own state,” he added. “Punish them for aiding in the cause of evil. A Special Tribunal should be created to take on Russia for its crimes in aggression towards our nation. It will be a message to all aggressors who could be that they must respect peace or face responsibility by the world.”

    The other four aspects that promote peace — “defense of human life”, “restoring security and territorial integrity,” “security guarantees,” and “determination” — offered more generalized plans of action for other countries. Zelensky did urge other nations to declare Russia as the state sponsor of terrorism for its war and negotiate military agreements with Ukraine to deter future military action from Russia, even though Zelensky didn't mention NATO membership as a particular goal.

    Zelensky concluded by slamming not just Russia's allies but also countries who have decided not to back either side.

    “Those who talk of neutrality, while peace and human values are at risk, must mean something different. They are talking about indifference and all for their own,” the Ukrainian president declared. “Here's what they are saying. They appear to be interested in one's issues. They tend to each other in a formal way. They are only interested in the rules of protocol. That's why they claim to defend someone, but in actuality they only protect their own vested interests.”

    “This is what sets the conditions for conflict. This must be addressed to make the conditions that promote peaceful coexistence,” he concluded.

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