Speech by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky at Chatham House
Dear guests, dear friends! I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this discussion.
I am also grateful that Chatham House, one of the most influential think tanks in Europe, set up a special program in 2015 for independent and in-depth research into the Ukrainian context. These studies help to find answers to the most pressing questions. And these are the questions I would like to ask you today. I know you will ask me questions, there will be dialogue.
But I am sure that each and every one of you is well aware of the level of the problem that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought. This is the highest priority issue for us today and, I am sure, for the whole world. It has brought not only our people, but also everyone on the continent and everyone in the world. I am absolutely convinced of that.
This is a full-scale invasion - one that Europe has seen only in the worst times of the twentieth century. I would like to briefly outline some of the challenges.
The first is the extreme cruelty of the Russian troops and their people who came here, and the Russian state's extreme contempt for all international conventions, the entire system of international law, human rights - for me it is most important, the inviolability of borders, the integrity of states in Europe.
Why is Russia doing all this? Because they think: if they can be held responsible for such crimes, criminal acts, then only in decades. They simply do not believe that the international community can bring to justice those who are covered by the power of a nuclear state.
The second challenge is, in fact, nuclear blackmail. For the first time in many decades. Absolutely candid.
Russian state propagandists use their media resources to calculate how long it takes for nuclear missiles to hit European capitals. They talk about it publicly, openly. They tell how to detonate nuclear charges in the ocean to wash away everything in the British Isles with a radioactive wave. Prepare infographics. That is, they take it seriously. They boast that Russia can turn any state into "nuclear ashes." And "nuclear ashes" is their quote, which they repeat as a mantra.
Why is this happening? This is a feeling of impunity. They are accustomed to the fact that business as usual has always returned to the relations of all states with Russia. And even now there are politicians in Europe who are not ashamed of ties with the Russian state after all that the Russian army has done in Ukraine.
The third challenge is that the world is a few steps away from the political chaos in dozens of countries that could result from the food and inflation crises. By blackmailing Europe into launching the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline last year, Russia has provoked a price crisis in Europe. Gazprom deliberately failed to supply the market with the right amount of gas to cover the deficit, and as a result, gas prices in Europe have reached all-time highs, and historic ones. This has hit all Europeans without exception.
Now, as part of a full-scale war against Ukraine, Russia is blocking our ports it has seized.
What does this lead to? The global market remains without sufficient supplies of some key products from Ukraine. This is what we have that is a priority for the world: grain, sunflower oil, corn, other agricultural products.
What consequences do we see? I'm sure we don't see everything, because there are few analysts. I think we will see all this. In some countries - a shortage of sunflower oil. In other countries, the chains of agricultural production, which is associated with our supplies, are slowing down. In others, a shortage of basic foodstuffs is expected.
All this together puts pressure on prices. In North Africa, the Middle East, Asia. And then it will affect other regions of the world. And the poorest will suffer. Who always suffers? The poorest. The middle class will also suffer. Obviously, the political consequences of this can be dangerous.
Russia's war against our state at first seemed to many only a bilateral event, and some even smiled, some said it was just a conflict, Russia said it was a "military operation"… Now we all take it differently, more seriously.
But today is the 72nd day of a full-scale war, and we do not yet see its end. We do not see or feel the desire of the Russian side. As we do not see comprehensive answers to all the threats posed by Russia.
What do we offer?
There has not been a day since February 24 when my entire team and I have not held talks to obtain the necessary weapons, to agree on the necessary sanctions against Russia, to organize the necessary cooperation to record and investigate war crimes.
There has not been a day since the brutal blockade of Mariupol by the Russian army (this is one example) that we have not tried to find a diplomatic solution to save people and organize humanitarian corridors.
We are in contact with everyone who can provide financial support to Ukraine. We have already begun to prepare a large-scale Recovery Plan for Ukraine, as we have no doubt that we will still be able to defend our independence. And we believe in this strength of the world, in our strength. This is not a belief in a miracle. Common sense says that the world's response to such actions of the aggressor, which Russia now allows itself, should be immediate.
And how really? We've been talking about the same things for months. For example, the oil embargo against Russia, the blocking of the entire banking sector of the terrorist state. For months we have been fighting for a sufficient supply of weapons. And I am grateful to those states that have been helping us from the first days constantly, every day. Because they correctly assessed the threat. But, unfortunately, not all states have appreciated it. Even now, not everyone evaluates it that way.
Most of Russia's challenges and threats have not been fully addressed. That's the main thing. So, we need new tools, we need to look for them constantly. New determination. That can stop not only Russia, but also any potential aggressor.
Ukraine proposes to create just such a tool. We call it U24. United24. By upgrading the global security system, we must create opportunities to stop any aggression as a precaution or at least in 24 hours. Or in 24 hours to provide such assistance to the victim of aggression, which will restore peace. Or, if it is not a war, but a natural disaster or any social challenge, in 24 hours the world community must provide a country or region with all the necessary assistance to save people.
Thanks to such a global response system, we will be able to guarantee that millions of people will never again be threatened with physical destruction or deportation or starvation. Therefore, here are specific questions that need to be answered by politicians, experts and society.
And the questions I want to ask you now. What exactly can be done to ensure that responsibility for war crimes is inevitable and does not come in a decade, but rather as in ordinary criminal proceedings?
What specific sanctions against Russia can convince, first of all, Russia and all other potential aggressors in the world, that international law must be respected?
What specific global solutions are needed to keep the weapons of mass destruction in the world under control and to prevent their use and appropriate blackmail? Even talk about it. And what sanctions should be imposed for nuclear blackmail or blackmail with chemical weapons?
And what will convince the world's politicians that these issues are urgent and practical, and not just for discussion?
I hope you will offer your thoughts, answers to these questions. This is your experience. Because we all objectively need answers, the world needs them, every person who looks at us now will look at us and who asks himself every day.
And I'm sure that the U24 tool we offer can be an important part of your answers. This is an option. We are talking about this - about our initiative. Because I believe that a large number of initiatives show that more people understand the global nature of these challenges, the global nature of the answers.
Thank you very much for your attention!
Glory to Ukraine!