Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in person at the United Nations on Tuesday, blasting Russia for weaponizing everything from food supplies to nuclear energy in its desperation to conquer his country.
"When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there," Zelenskyy said before the United Nations General Assembly during Tuesday’s session of the High-Level week.
"The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you — against the international rules-based order," he added.
"Since the start of the full-scale war, the Ukrainian ports in the Black and the Azov have been blocked by Russia," he said. "Until now, our ports on the Danube River remained a target for missiles and drones, and it is a clear Russian attempt to weaponize the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition of some, if not all, of the captured territories."
Last year, the United Nations brokered a deal between the warring nations to secure vital grain trade, with Ukraine and Russia making up around 25% of the world’s wheat, hence Ukraine’s nickname as the "breadbasket of Europe."
In the summer of 2023, Moscow announced that it had terminated the deal and then attacked Ukrainian ports just one day later as part of "mass revenge strikes" that Russia claimed would balance out attacks from Kyiv against bridges connecting to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has held since its initial incursion in 2014.
Russia has particularly focused its attacks on Odesa, where it destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry.
Zelenskyy again raised Russia’s continued campaign of abducting Ukrainian children, which laid the foundation for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue a warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arrest.
U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Carpenter, in July last year revealed that the U.S. had information that "thousands" of children in that month alone had been transferred from Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine to Russia itself.
Zelenskyy pleaded to the U.N. on Tuesday, "What will happen to them?"
"Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine, and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide," Zelenskyy said, reiterating that hatred against one country "never stops" and that Russia will continue its campaign to other countries if it succeeds in Ukraine.
"Parts of Moldova and Georgia remain occupied," he said. "Russia tore Syria into ruins, and if not Russia, the chemical weapons would have never been used there in Syria."
"Russia has almost swallowed Belarus," he continued. "It is obviously threatening Kazakhstan and other Baltic States, and the goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our lands, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you – again, the international rules-based order."
"Many seats in the U.N. General Assembly Hall may become empty if Russia succeeds with its treachery and aggression," he stressed.
Russia gets its chance to address the General Assembly on Saturday when Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected on the rostrum. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky sat in Russia’s seat during Zelenskyy’s speech.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.