Image:UN Photo/Cia Pak
“Every war is a denial of humanity,” European Council President Charles Michel told the UN General Assembly on Friday, condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he said has threatened hundreds of millions of people with starvation, heat deprivation or energy constraints.
“This is hybrid warfare. It combines the violence of weapons with the poison of lies,” Mr. Michel stated, describing falsehoods coming from the Kremlin – such as the justifying the war as a preventative measure for an alleged genocide of Russian-speakers in Ukraine.
“It is wrong, and it is filthy,” he said.
Also, in Russia’s “web of lies” was that Russia’s aggression would be a “special operation” and not a war.
Mr. Michel affirmed however, that it is indeed an “unprovoked, illegal and unjustified” war aimed to forcibly change internationally recognized borders.
He next cited the lie that sanctions against Russia would cause food and fertilizer shortages, pointing out that even before the war, Russia itself drastically reduced its exports of cereals and fertilizers – “favoring the volatility of prices” on the world market.
Moreover, while Russia then militarily blocked the Black Sea ports, making maritime trade impossible, the European Union (EU) opened “solidarity corridors” to export millions of tons of food from Ukraine.
“In truth, there is a very simple way to end the food crisis: for Russia to stop the war, withdraw from Ukrainian territory and lift the blockade of the ports,” stated the European Council President.
‘War of colonization’
Imperialism and retaliation are the only bases of “this war of colonization” targeting Ukraine, he continued, noting that the aggression has deliberately trampled on international law and the UN Charter.
The threat of nuclear weapons and using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a military base “must stop,” underscored Mr. Michel, throwing the EU’s support behind the International Atomic Emergency’s (IAEA) efforts to restore security in Europe’s largest nuclear plant.
Flagging that the EU choses to respect borders rather than aggression, cooperation rather than threats, and a rules-based order rather than the law of the fittest, he said: “Today, Russia is scary. The Kremlin brought war back to Europe”.
The President then warned against letting its destructive actions jeopardize “our fierce will to act for the common good”.
From COVID-19 repercussions to a declining human development index and extreme weather patterns to the whittling down of women and minorities’ rights, he described multilateral cooperation as “collective intelligence in action…[and] the DNA of the European Union”.
In the spirit of “no master, no student,” Mr. Michel stressed that the EU acts at the UN, the G7 and the G20 and reaches out in strategic partnership with Africa, the African Union, Japan, South Korea, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The President said that he looks forward to giving “new impetus” to EU’s relationship with the Latin American continent and the Gulf countries.
“And we hope that emerging powers, including China, will sincerely participate in collective efforts for peace and development,” he said.
Right of veto
Noting that a robust multilateral system requires mutual trust, Mr. Michel upheld that the current Security Council is neither inclusive nor representative.
“The use of the right of veto should be the exception, but it is becoming the rule,” he said advocating for “necessary and urgent,” reform.
“And when a permanent member of the Security Council unleashes an unprovoked and unjustifiable war, condemned by the General Assembly, his suspension from the Security Council should be automatic”.
The senior European Union official stated that leadership is “showing the way, and above all delivering results”.
“Energy and climate change are two sides of the same coin,” he said.
“Overcoming the energy crisis means reducing the climate threat. Protecting our biodiversity and our oceans means guaranteeing our future. Climate neutrality is our compass”.
The Council President vowed to campaign at the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP27) in November to “implement the promises of Paris, and to go beyond” for a fair and equitable transition, reminding that “no country alone can protect our planet”.