In a defiant address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky outlined what he called Ukraine’s “formula” for peace, calling for nations to give more support to his military and to punish Russia on the international stage.
“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” he said in his address, a prerecorded video that required an Assembly vote to allow.
Pointedly refusing to say the name of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, Mr. Zelensky said that there was “only one entity among all U.N. member states who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he is happy with this war.” He said that Ukraine “will not let this entity prevail over us, even though it’s the largest state in the world.”
Mr. Zelensky has for months pleaded for aid from the world in phone calls with presidents, videos to lawmakers and on social media. Speaking in English, Mr. Zelensky reiterated several of those requests — most urgently, a call for continued arms and ammunition as Ukraine wages two campaigns to reclaim territory that Russia had taken.
Describing the horrors that civilians had suffered in the war, Mr. Zelensky said that weapons, ammunition and financial support would protect lives by helping to expel Russian troops from Ukraine.
“Russia wants to spend the winter on the occupied territory of Ukraine and prepare for a new offensive: new Buchas, new Iziums,” he said, referring to towns where hundreds were found dead in the wake of Russian retreats. “Or at least it wants to prepare fortifications on occupied land and carry out military mobilization at home.”
He also urged nations to punish Russia in the United Nations, at least as long as “aggression lasts.” He said that Russia should be deprived of its veto power in the U.N. Security Council, that a special tribunal should be created to adjudicate the war and that prosecutors should seek out Russian money.
“Russia should pay for this war with its assets,” he said.
And he said countries should not be intimidated by Russia’s leverage with oil and gas supplies, calling for caps on Russian energy prices as a way to mitigate soaring energy costs.
“Limiting prices is safeguarding the world,” he said. “But will the world go for it? Or will it be scared?”
Mr. Zelensky criticized countries that have tried to avoid antagonizing Russia, saying they acted only to protect their “vested interests,” but he did so without naming names. He reserved his most castigating language for Russia itself and for the handful of nations that had sided with Russia in voting against allowing his speech to be played for the General Assembly: Belarus, North Korea and Syria among them.
He ended the address by broaching the subject of peace talks, which have stalled for months despite some progress on specific issues like grain exports and a U.N. nuclear mission.
“Probably you have heard different words from Russia about the talks, as if they were ready for them,” he said, before alluding to Russia’s efforts to call up more soldiers and to hold referendums in occupied territory. “They talk about the talks but announce military mobilization,” he said. “They talk about the talks but announce psuedo-referendums.”
He said that Ukraine, in contrast, was not just ready for talks, but for “true, honest fair peace.” The heads of state and diplomats in the audience gave him a sustained ovation after he added, “That’s why the world is on our side.”