Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Panel Session on “A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine”

Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Panel Session on “A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine”

USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone.  Thank you all so much for joining.  It’s very good to be with friends and partners from around the world as we prepare to open the second Summit for Democracy.

In his first year in office, President Biden launched the summit to look at the future of democracy, which we see is at an inflection point.  Worldwide, we see autocrats violating human rights and suppressing fundamental freedoms; corrupting – and with corruption eating away at young people’s faith in their future; citizens questioning whether democracy can still deliver on the issues that matter most to their lives and to their livelihoods.

And we see authoritarian regimes reaching beyond their borders to coerce free and open societies through increasingly aggressive, revisionist foreign policies.  Nothing illustrates the gravity of that threat more than Russia’s brutal and unjustified war against Ukraine.

In February 2022, President Putin launched a full-scale war against the people of Ukraine: attempting to conquer their country, topple their democratically elected government, redraw their borders.  Indeed, President Putin’s overall objective was to erase Ukraine’s identity as an independent, sovereign nation and absorb it into Russia.

This war is an attack not only on Ukraine, but on the international rules-based order that seeks to defend international peace and stability, and uphold, in the words of the United Nations Charter, “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

And as this group very well knows, the victims of Russia’s aggression are not only Ukrainians but people all around the world.  The Kremlin’s war has exacerbated acute food insecurity, already at crisis levels due to COVID-19, climate change, and other conflicts, putting millions at risk.  It pushed up the price of fertilizer, fuel, and food, making it harder for families in every part of the world to make ends meet.

The world has come together on multiple occasions at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Russia’s aggression and the atrocities that have come with it.  Countries from the North and South, developed and developing, established and emerging democracies, have all called on Russia to end this war and pursue a just and durable peace in Ukraine.

The United States is committed to supporting meaningful diplomatic efforts that can achieve this.

We all know that for peace to be just, it must uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence.  And for peace to be durable, it must ensure that Russia can’t simply rest and refit its troops, and then relaunch the war at a time more advantageous to it.

Ukraine, under President Zelenskyy, has put forward a proposal that would forge such a peace.  It would end the war and save countless lives.  It would restore Ukraine’s territory and respect its democracy.  It would reconstruct the country and the economy.  It would ensure that – radiation and nuclear safety.  It would uphold the UN Charter and the will of the international community.  And it would come to the aid of the millions around the world that have been affected by Russia’s aggression.

Last December, President Biden hosted President Zelenskyy at the White House, where they discussed Ukraine’s peace formula.  And today, we welcome fellow democracies who are standing with Ukraine on the path to a just and durable peace, because Ukraine’s future and the future of the international order on which peace and security depend, that is what is at stake.

So that’s why we’ve come together today, and I really appreciate everyone joining.  And I’m very honored to have my friend, our colleague Foreign Minister Kuleba here to discuss Ukraine’s peace plan.  Dmytro, the floor is yours.

FOREIGN MINISTER KULEBA:  Thank you.  Dear Secretary, dear colleagues, dear friends, excellencies, President Zelenskyy has asked me to convey his apologies for not being able to join you today.  As you may have seen on the news, he is visiting regions of Ukraine bordering the front line and the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.  So I am grateful to you, Tony, for convening this important meeting that allows me to present President Zelenskyy’s and Ukraine’s vision for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

First of all, I applaud the United States for taking the lead around the world in defending democracy.  This year’s summit is vital, for democracy faces existential threats.  Nowhere is this more acutely felt than in Ukraine.  Although Russia seeks to destroy Ukraine, its aggression is not only about Ukraine.  Russia also aims to destroy the world order based on international law and the UN Charter.

For more than nine years, our best sons and daughters have not only been fighting for their future, but also defending our common democratic values at the cost of their lives.  In this fight, we are defending the entire democratic world.  No other nation wants peace more than Ukraine, but peace at any cost is an illusion.  For peace to be a lasting one, it needs to be just.

The cessation of Russia’s aggression and the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity are essential conditions for peace.  Ill-advised concessions to the aggressor would only encourage Russia to intensify its attacks on democracy, giving it times to rebuild its military capabilities and resume the armed offensive against Ukraine.  We need a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace, and we know how to get that.

To that end, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as you are all well aware, presented our peace formula.  This initiative is a clear plan of action that should not only bring peace to Ukraine but also restore the world order based on the norms and principles of international law.  We notice that other nations are also putting forth their own initiatives.  We appreciate their focus on a problem that jeopardizes global security.  However, I would like to emphasize that the Ukrainian people will accept peace only if it guarantees the cessation of Russian aggression in full, the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, and the restoration of our state’s territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders.

Ukraine’s peace formula contains all of these just conditions for ending the war.  Our peace plan has already been recognized and approved, including during the vote on the UNGA resolution, “Principle of the United Nations Charter Underlying a Comprehensive, Just, and Lasting Peace in Ukraine” end of quote.  The resolution, which reflects many key points of the peace formula, was approved by 141 countries.  The Group of 7 welcomed and supported Ukraine’s efforts to advance the peace formula’s vision of a comprehensive, just, and enduring peace.  The European Union has endorsed the Ukrainian initiative.  The same stance is taken in bilateral agreements with our partners.

I am deeply grateful to the countries that have already stated their willingness to participate in the implementation of the peace formula.  We are confident that by working together we will restore justice, protect democratic values, and restore respect for the UN Charter’s principle.  We want to involve as many countries as possible; we count on your help in this.  And I believe that every democracy has to contribute to this cause.

Today I will briefly reflect on some of the formula’s details.  The peace formula consists of 10 points that can be implemented one at a time or simultaneously.  Their implementation should bring long-awaited peace to Ukraine and guarantee security to the whole world.

The formula’s first point is about radiation and nuclear safety.  Russia has resorted to nuclear blackmail and nuclear threats, which is completely unacceptable.  Russia’s military forces continue to occupy Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, preventing its employees from performing their duties effectively.  Only by returning full control of the facility to Ukraine can this be stopped.  Russia must withdraw its troops from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and cease its reckless and dangerous threats.  The aggressor must follow the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, which guaranteed Russia’s non-use of force, including nuclear weapons, in exchange for Ukraine’s voluntary nuclear disarmament.

The formula’s second component is food security.  Russia’s aggressive war is destroying global food supply chains.  We are grateful to Türkiye, the UN, and other partners for their assistance in implementing the Black Sea Grain Initiative.  It enables the distribution of grain to those in greatest needs.  However, the problem is not completely resolved, and will not be resolved until Russia ends its naval blockade of Ukrainian ports and attacks on critical infrastructure.  The Black Sea Grain Initiative should be expanded and continued to reduce the threat, and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea should eliminate it.

Energy Security is the formula’s third element.  And I would like to take this opportunity, Secretary, to thank you particularly, and also our French colleague, Catherine, and (inaudible), for organizing important meetings which boosted support for Ukraine’s energy sector during the darkest months of winter.  And I also take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed to these efforts to help Ukraine with transformers, generators, and other equipment to survive winter.

The release of prisoners and deportees is the fourth component of the formula.  Modern Russia is characterized by inhuman prison conditions, the unlawful deprivation of civil liberties, kidnapping, and forced deportation of children.  We demand the immediate release of all Ukrainian political prisoners, war prisoners, and people who have been wrongfully detained, as well as the repatriation of those who have been deported both from Russian territory and from the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories.

The fifth point of the formula is the implementation of the UN Charter and the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty.  I don’t have to dwell too much on that; we all understand what this point is about.

The formula’s sixth point is the withdrawal of Russian troops and the cessation of hostilities.  I want to be clear:  Russia has to withdraw from every square meter of Ukrainian territory.  There should be no misinterpretation of what the word “withdrawal” implies.

The formula’s seventh point is the restoration of justice.  Let me stop here and give you a couple of details.  The aggressor must pay for all damages caused to Ukraine.  It is critical to establish an international compensation mechanism for Russia’s payment of reparations.  However, not all losses are recoverable.  Nobody will be able to bring the victims of Russia’s barbaric invasion back to life.  Aggression is accompanied by heinous crimes, as evidenced by the murders in Bucha and Irpin, as well as the Russian torture chambers in Kherson and Izium.  The exact number of civilian Ukrainians killed in Mariupol is unknown, but it is believed to be in the tens of thousands.

The responsibility for this lies not only with the Russian Federation’s political and military leadership, but also with the ordinary executors.  The memory of the innocent victims demands that all those responsible for these atrocities face just punishment.  By issuing an arrest warrant for Putin, international justice has already given a proper assessment of his crimes.  A special tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine’s effective work should further restore faith in justice.

The formulas eighth point is ecological security.  And again, I think the damage – the damage inflicted on Ukraine’s environment is uncomprehensible, and we have to focus our efforts on bringing responsible to account.

The ninth point of the formula is the prevention of war escalation and the repetition of aggression.

And finally, the tenth point, the formula’s tenth point, is confirmation of the end of the war.

These are very simple 10 points; they all make sense.  And they have to be implemented, and we have to be united in ensuring that this formula is taken as the basis for the settlement.  But the international community has always shown that it will not tolerate an insult to the principle – an insult to the principles of the UN Charter.  And I therefore urge all countries to reaffirm their resolve and join efforts to put Ukraine’s peace formula into action.  Each country – I emphasize each country – can contribute to the cause of peace by participating in the implementation of specific points on – of this peace formula.

Thank you very much for your attention.  And thank you for giving us this opportunity to highlight the peace formula by Ukraine.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Dmytro, thank you very, very much.  Thank you for walking us through it.  I think it’s very important, and it also underscores a couple of things.

One, I think we all have to be very much aware and beware of what may seem to be well-intentioned efforts, for example, to call for cease fires, which would potentially have the effect of freezing in place the conflict, allowing Russia to consolidate the gains that it’s made, and simply use the time to rest and refit and then re-attack.  And so what seems to be appealing on the surface – who wouldn’t want the guns to be silent – can also be a very cynical trap that we have to be very, very careful of.

And of course, I think it’s safe to say, Dmytro, that no one wants peace more than the Ukrainian people because they’re the ones who are suffering directly from its absence and from this aggression.  But it has to be just and it has to be durable; otherwise, it’s ultimately for naught.

I’d like to take the opportunity to just go around and hear from colleagues.  Catherine, I know you have – you have another obligation.  So I want to turn to you first and just get any reflections that you may have.

FOREIGN MINISTER COLONNA:  Good afternoon, colleagues, excellencies.  Let me switch to French, if I may.

(Via interpreter) First of all, I would like to thank the Secretary of State of organizing this meeting on the margins of the Summit for Democracy.  Thank you, Antony, and also applaud Dmytro’s participation.  And I would like to reiterate our full support to Ukraine for its freedom, its sovereignty, for its territorial integrity, for its security.  Ukraine is also fighting for us and for our own security.  Your resistance, your courage make us proud.  To our Ukrainian friends, you know that you can count on France’s support and that of the European Union.

For more than one year, Russian is waging a war of aggression, an illegal war, non-provoked, unjustified, unjustifiable.  It is also conducting a war against the principle and values that we all share, against the rules to which we are all attached, first among which the Charter of the United Nations, international human rights and laws, and international law in general.  We are not talking about Western values; we are talking about the common rules around the world.  And it’s also about respect for human dignity, everything that underscores the universal human rights.

Dmytro mentioned the meeting that we organized in Paris on December 13th.  I would like to make reference to what we’re able to do together, Dmytro, during the meeting of the Human Rights Council, which was organized in Geneva on February 27th.  And there, we were able to organize an event that brought together more than 50 countries to condemn the Russian crimes, which are representative of war crimes and clearly war crimes against mankind.  We all saw these images, these horrible images of civilians executed, massacred, violated, children deported.  So at the Security Council in September, we were all together – I said it again at the Human Rights Council, I said it again at the G20 and at other opportunities; I’m saying it again, once again:  There will no – be no durable peace without justice.  Justice must prevail.  This is why the issuance by the International Criminal Court of two arrest warrants against Mr. Putin and Mr. Belova[1] represents a major step in the collective fight that we’re conducting against impunity.  And I would like to call the party states to the Statutes of Rome to respect their international obligations in this respect.

I also call upon the European Council to work now to strengthen the protection of children in Ukraine.  We must do everything we can, starting by documenting human rights violations committed by the Russian troops against these children, including forced transfers and deportations.  So to refuse Russia’s victory, that does not mean that we want the victory of the West against the East or the North against the South.  It is important to break these misrepresentations.  These are lies.  It is simply refusing that force should prevail over law.  It’s refusing the denial of the most fundamental laws and rules of international law, those which allow us to live in peace and stability.  So we will not allow Russia to win; the stakes are much too high.  Let’s be united and let’s move again together.

(Inaudible) in France, as you know, so thank you for giving me the floor early.  Thank you.  Merci beaucoup.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Merci beaucoup – merci, Catherine.  Thank you, Catherine, very much.  I’d like to turn now to Jan, Jan Lipavsky for – from the Czech Republic.  Jan, over to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIPAVSKY:  Thank you, Tony.  Dear Dmytro, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased that we have a chance to discuss this key issue right at the beginning of the summit.  The Russian war against Ukraine has already taken too many lives and destroyed too many homes of innocent people.  We all are desperately looking for peace.  We all but one man wish to see the end of this war.  The man is Vladimir Putin, and the International Criminal Court has finally charged him with war crimes and issued an arrest warrant against him.

I’ve heard a lot of comments suggesting that he will never appear before the ICC or special tribunal for prosecution of crimes of aggression, the establishment of which Czechia strongly advocates.  I have also heard many voices suggesting that Ukraine will not have enough strength and capabilities to fully restore its territorial integrity; that it’s not possible or that it’s too risky and too dangerous to try to liberate Crimea; that Vladimir Putin will not give up the peninsula, that he will not give up Ukraine, which he so arrogantly claims he’s entitled to; that the U.S., the European Union, and the West cannot sustain the long-term military and financial support of Ukraine because of our economic burdens.  Many say that Ukraine is too weak and Russia too strong, that Ukrainians must negotiate and must compromise and give up some – some of its territory.

That is exactly what happened to Czechoslovakia prior to the Second World War.  Many European leaders believed at that time that ceding of significant parts of my country in the autumn of 1938 to Hitler would bring peace.  It was peace for our time, some of them said.  And that is exactly what Vladimir Putin wants, force us and Ukraine to give in and accept his so-called peace proposals in order to prepare Russia for even bigger war.  It is vital to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.  It is not an option; it is a necessity.

Ukraine is by no means weak, because of Ukraine’s citizens are strong.  We saw this in the very first days of the Russian aggression, and we have been witnessing it every single day since.  They are fighting not just for their territory and their homes, but for values we all share.  Ukrainians are dying for freedom of speech, for democracy, for the simple principle that borders shall not be changed by force.  We need to support the brave Ukrainians and make sure that they will have all the means to restore the territorial integrity of their country, including Crimea.  We need to make sure that war crimes committed by Russian troops under the order of Putin do not go unpunished.  Only then can peace be fair and lasting.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Jan, thank you very, very much.  Can we go now to Eli Cohen from Israel?  Eli, over to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER COHEN:  Hi, Tony, how are you?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good to see you.

FOREIGN MINISTER COHEN:  Israel is a democratic country facing security challenges.  We feel affinity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they fight for their independence and sovereignty.  We know how it feels to fight for our homeland and identity.  Israel – and actually, the lessons of the 20th century are clear.  The international community should raise a voice loud, clear, and (inaudible).  Early on, Israel has made a firm commitment to supporting Ukraine and upholding its territorial integrity.  Despite the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories, Israel has taken a (inaudible) by refusing to recognize this action.  In addition, Israel (inaudible) action to promoting peace in Ukraine by supporting the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for comprehensive and lasting resolution to the conflict.

Through these actions, Israel has shown solidarity with Ukraine and made a commitment to promoting international peace and security.  If we can be of any help in facilitating a peaceful resolution to the conflict, ending the tragedy and human suffering, Israel will be at the forefront of such (inaudible).  The war within Ukraine is a clear challenge to the world’s stability and order as we know it.  We will not ignore the dangers.  Iran’s (inaudible) involvement in the war within Ukraine must be a wake-up call to all.  Iran’s IRGC is responsible for the use of advanced UAVs against civilian targets in Ukraine.  Such transfers are a violation of Iran’s obligations and go against the values and spirit of democracies around the world.

In this aspect, the international community must implement coordinated pressure to stop the Iranian activity.  On my recent visit to Kyiv, I have personally witnessed the vast devastation the war brought upon Ukraine and the suffering of the people.  In my meeting with President Zelenskyy and my friend Foreign Minister Kuleba, I emphasized that Israel strongly supports the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  On my visit, we have officially resumed the permanent presence of the Israeli embassy in Kyiv.  This is a clear message of solidarity.

I was actually honored to be a first, the first foreign minister from our region to visit Ukraine and to show Israel’s support.  Israel will continue to offer its assistance to Ukraine.  We will continue our vast program of capacity building, focused on area of expertise in rebuilding resilience, and post-trauma and medical and para-medical assistance in the area of rehabilitation.  The challenges of Ukraine, its people and leadership today are (inaudible).  The challenges for the day after will depend on our concerted efforts.

We have (inaudible) for humanitarian and other aid.  We are (inaudible) working closely with our friends in Ukraine.  Israel (inaudible) experience will not (inaudible) taking into consideration other results.  We will extend – and this is our government and its decision – extend our support hand to Ukraine.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Eli, thank you very much.  Let’s go now to the foreign minister of Italy, Antonio.

FOREIGN MINISTER TAJANI:  Hi, my friend.  Thank you for organizing this debate on democracy.  Dmytro, hi.

I think it’s very important to be very clear on this.  Now the competition is between democracy and the technocrats.  For this, it’s important to work all together in defense of our values – democracy, human rights – but also we need to have a strategy not only in Ukraine, but also for stopping Russia.  We need to work hard also in the Western Balkans.  Italy is strongly engaged, of course, for supporting Ukraine at military level and for – in support to the population, but we are working hard in the Western Balkans for stopping Russia.

We need more Europe.  We need more Italy in this region because the danger is to leave the Western Balkans in Russian hands.  It’s very, very important.

We need to do the same also in Africa.  We need to be more present as democratic countries.  We need to work hard for supporting growth, organize joint adventures for working together in favor of peace and democracy, because the competition is at the global level.  The Russian are working everywhere.  Wagner is present not only in Ukraine; it’s present everywhere.

For supporting Ukraine, we need to be present also everywhere, because the competition is global.  On Ukraine, of course, Italy is strongly engaged.  The Prime Minister Meloni has been in Kyiv talking with President Zelenskyy.  I want to thank also for the kind words of the Ukrainian Government with the Italians.

Also, three days ago, from Italy started the big mission for supporting civilian population, also with a football Italian organization.  They are working hard also in favor of the young children without family in many Ukrainian region.  For this, we are working not only in military sector, also in civil sector, because I think we need to help Ukraine – the Ukrainians, also, living a difficult moment this – during this season.

We need to help the Ukrainian soldiers – they are in Italy – but we need also to help all the Ukrainians in this difficult moment for achieving victory.  I am optimistic on this, but in the same time we need to work for the peace.  Peace is not the defeat of Ukraine; it’s the victory of Ukraine.  Peace is the respect of the international groups, and we are working on this because  working in defense of Ukraine, we are working in defense of our values, in defense of democracy, in defense of human rights against the technocrats.

This is very important.  Italy is strongly engaged.  The Italian Government is strongly engaged on this in Ukraine, in the Western Balkans, in Africa, in South America.  So thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Grazie, Tonio.  Good to be with you.  Thank you so much.

Can we go now to our colleague from Liberia, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah?

I think the picture may be frozen.  Let’s see if we can get our colleague.  I tell you what – why don’t we come back and let’s come back to him, and maybe we can go to our colleague from Malawi, Nancy Tembo, if you’re there.

FOREIGN MINISTER TEMBO: Can you hear me?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.  Thank you, Nancy.

FOREIGN MINISTER TEMBO:  Thank you.  Thank you, Secretary Blinken, for convening this timely meeting.  The meeting is indeed important since lasting peace is what the people of Ukraine would like to have in their land.

The Ukrainian people have, for over a year, experienced untold suffering, including death of loved ones, loss of livelihoods, displacement, and destruction of vital infrastructure.  The war has also generated ripple negative effects on the global economy, more especially on developing economies such as ours.

In addition, the conflict has exposed the failure of the United Nations Security Council in safeguarding principles of the UN Charter when it’s being violated by one of its own permanent members.  On its flipside, the war has displayed the bravery and resilience of the Ukrainian people, who have put up with strong resistance against a superpower.  They have shown us that everything is possible if there is a strong will and unity of purpose.

Since the conflict began, the UN General Assembly in New York as well as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has passed several resolutions calling for an immediate withdrawal of Russia from Ukraine.  Malawi has supported each and every resolution because it believes and respects the UN Charter, which promotes the sovereignty and equality of all states.  These resolutions, while exerting political and diplomatic pressure on Russia to withdraw, have not really resulted in true cessation of hostilities on the ground.  The atrocities and the negative impact of the war on Ukraine and the world economy continue.

Now is indeed the time to move a step further by coming up with more concrete actions that would assure comprehensive, just, and lasting peace for the people of Ukraine.  We believe that the two warring parties should be brought to a negotiating table for genuine dialogue aimed at ceasefire, and we mean “genuine” – not just a break from the war but genuine dialogue.  In addition, the United Nations Security Council should also live up to its expectations and mandate of safeguarding the principles of the UN Charter.

As a country, Malawi will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine in multilateral fora until there is positive change in Ukraine.  I am confident that with such collaborative efforts by the international community, a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine is possible.  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Nancy, thank you very much for joining us today.  I appreciate it very much.  And it looks like we have our friend from Liberia back online.  Dee-Maxwell, back over to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER KEMAYAH:  Thank you.  Sorry, I’m in Lusaka, Zambia for the Democracy Summit.  Our profoundest gratitude to the honorable President Biden and his cohost for organizing this Democratic Summit.

Having said that, I have the pleasure and duty to convey special greetings and warm felicitations from His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, president of the Republic of Liberia, and in my own name, and congratulate His Excellency Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, and the government and people and the gallant men and women of Ukraine in arms for successfully holding out, protecting, and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their great country in the wake of Russia’s condemnable, unprovoked, and unjustified brutal invasion of Ukraine, as well as the illegal annexation of the parts of Ukraine since February 24, 2022.

Let me extend my profound thanks and appreciation to the Honorable Antony J. Blinken, United States Secretary of State, for inviting (inaudible) participate in this important virtual discussion with the theme a just and lasting peace in Ukraine with His Excellency President Zelenskyy of Ukraine.  We heartily commend President Zelenskyy, represented by the foreign minister of Ukraine, for the excellent presentation of Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan.

Permit me to reaffirm that Liberia strongly detests and condemns the Russian Federation in the strongest terms for its unprovoked attack on the peace-loving people of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of some regions of Ukraine, as well as Russia’s repeated rhetoric and threat regarding its placement of nuclear weapons in Belarus and its potential use of said nuclear weapons in its unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.

The Republic of Liberia was founded by brave women and women of courage in pursuit of liberty, justice, and freedom for all.  As a reasonable – as a responsible member of the community of nations, Liberia remains unwavering and strongly committed to the promotion and sustenance of the core values and principles of liberty, justice, human rights, freedom, respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, democracy, and humanity in general.

Anywhere they are threatened around the world, Liberia has and continues to firmly cooperate with other nations in support of global peace, security, and international rule-based order.  Respect for, supporting, and defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Liberia and any other nation, including Ukraine, is pursuant to one of the cardinal pillars of Liberia’s foreign policy objectives and in line with the charter and principles of the United Nations and other relevant international treaties and protocols aimed at ensuring global peace and security and promoting the rights of all nations to self-determination.

In that premise, Liberia reaffirms its unreserved commitment, support, and calls for the urgent restoration of just, lasting, and comprehensive peace to Ukraine, and hereby endorses to the fullest the 10-point peace plan in its entirety as excellently presented by His Excellency President Zelenskyy of Ukraine through the foreign minister of Ukraine.

In conclusion, I wish to again thank His Excellency President Zelenskyy for the exemplary leadership and bravery he continues to demonstrate in leading his great country and the resilient people of Ukraine in the path of defending their independence, sovereignty, their integrity, and fundamental rights to liberty, freedom, justice, self-determination, democracy, and humanity in general.  I wish us a fruitful deliberation as we continue to build strong global collaborative partnerships and step up the necessary imperative momentum in providing Ukraine with the most needed security, economic, logistical, and humanitarian assistance while strengthening and deepening the compelling endeavors of the international coalition and the defenders of the core values and fundamental principles of independence, human rights, defenders of democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and humanity to continue to hold the Russian Federation fully accountable for the gross violation and flagrant disregard for the charter and principles of the United Nations Charter and humanity in general.

Liberia has co-sponsored, supported, and voted for every resolution related to this unprovoked aggression by Russia in Ukraine.  And Liberia, under the astute leadership of His Excellency President Weah, and under my watch as minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia, we will continue to provide unconditional support for the people of Ukraine.

I thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Mr. Minister, thank you very, very much.  I greatly appreciate your intervention.  Thank you.

Santiago, I see you there.  Any reflections?

FOREIGN MINISTER CAFIERO:  Yes, hello, Tony.  Hello, Dmytro.  Well, hello, everyone.  I switch to Spanish.

(Via interpreter) Once again, we are meeting here to deal with the serious situation in Ukraine to reach a peace and to get peace in Ukraine and the region, because this is imperative, and we have to mobilize all of us.  And this is why I want to thank this meeting and the opportunity for me to take the floor, because Latin America, from Argentina, we express our firm position.

To start, we have to highlight that peaceful will not be possible if the cease – if the – if we don’t get a ceasefire.  Argentina condemns and we always condemned the invasion of Russia into Ukraine, and we reaffirm our commitment with the independence, unity of Ukraine.

We want peace in Ukraine that is a peace that can – that is – that can last, and in respect of the international law.  We will reach this if we really respect the principles of United Nations, because we have to have a peaceful world, and we signed this in 1945; and respect of international law and the sovereignty of the states, and territorial integrity, and the solution in a peaceful manner; and respect of human rights.

Argentina, during 2022 and the first time in the – in our history, we were the chair of the Human Rights Commission, and we were able to achieve during this time a task that was really highlighted by all the members of that commission.  During this time, we expressed our concern about the attacks of – to human rights.  This war started one year ago, and we have to insist that the human rights have to be respected, but we see the attacks on human rights and the infrastructure.  We are concerned about violation of human rights, of international law, examples that were submitted into the 52nd meeting of the United Nations.  These have to be classified as crimes of war, and we have to underline that we respect human rights and international law, and this is not optional.  All these crimes have to be investigated, and responsible have to pay a price.

We need this to include the criminal sanctions and the non-repetition of this crime.  Therefore, the humanitarian aid is fundamental for the survival of those that are most vulnerable.  We really want to – free access to these areas that are so vulnerable.  We will continue to lessen the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

We in Argentina and our White Helmets have really participated in these activities with the Ukrainian community.  We also had two missions in the evacuation of Argentine and Latin American people that were in Poland and Ukraine.  We know that dialogue and diplomacy is the only way out to avoid any suffering.

This war is a catastrophe for Ukraine, for its people, for Europe in general – not only for them, but the consequences will be dire for the whole world, and even if we are far away, but they are really suffering the energy cuts.

And I want to remember what Pope Francis said:  Please do not forget the Ukrainian people, because they suffer the crimes of the war.  And we have to participate.  Please, a ceasefire, an end to the conflict and to really reach a lasting peace and just peace, not only for Ukraine but for the world as a whole.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Santiago.  And we now have a video from our friend from Japan, Foreign Minister Hayashi, who couldn’t be with us live today but asked to be recorded so he could participate.  So let’s go to Foreign Minister Hayashi.

FOREIGN MINISTER HAYASHI:  Distinguished participants, first, I would like to express my appreciation to Secretary of State Blinken for his initiative in organizing today’s discussion.  Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act that shakes the very foundation of the international order, which the international community has built up over a long period of dedicated efforts and sacrifices.  This aggression is a serious violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and other principles of international law, including the UN Charter, and poses a clear challenge to the international order based on the rule of law.

Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, can never be tolerated anywhere in the world.  From this point of view, Japan has consistently and strongly condemned Russia, imposed strict sanctions against the country, and provided global support for Ukraine.  In order to bring Russia’s aggression to an end as soon as possible, the international community should enhance its coordination more than ever and lay the united voice that unilateral change of the status quo by force is unacceptable.

At the emergency special session of the UN General Assembly in February, which I attended, a resolution calling for a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine was adopted with the support of the overwhelming majority of all member-states.  The international community hopes that peace will come to Ukraine as soon as possible.  But it must be not a mere ceasefire, but a just peace based on the principles of the UN Charter.

We should not allow the world to revert to the jungle, where brute force and coercion would prevail.  We should protect the free and open international order based on the rule of law in which all nations, large or small, can make decisions freely under international law.  From this perspective, during Prime Minister Kishida’s recent visit to Ukraine, he conveyed to President Zelenskyy Japan’s high regard for the peace formula that President Zelenskyy has been advocating as a path to a just peace.

In the G7 Pluses, where Japan hosts the presidency this year, I chaired a G7 foreign ministers meeting in February, and G7 foreign ministers underlined their commitment to upholding the international order based on the rule of law, and committed to actively working with Ukraine for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

In order to stop Russia’s aggression as soon as possible, Japan, as the G7 presidency, we maintain the unity of the G7 and other likeminded countries, and promote strict sanctions against Russia and robust support for Ukraine.  At the upcoming G7 foreign ministers meeting in Karuizawa, Nagano, and G7 Hiroshima Summit, we would like to send a strong message to the world that G7 will never tolerate unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force anywhere in the world, or accept Russia’s nuclear threats, let alone its use of nuclear weapons.  The G7 is determined to uphold the international order based on the rule of law.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thanks very much to our friend Foreign Minister Hayashi for joining us with these pre-recorded remarks.  And thanks to everyone for joining us today.  And Dmytro, thank you very, very much for being here, for sharing and going through the peace plan that President Zelenskyy has put forward.

All of us are committed to peace, but I believe also all of us are committed to making sure that that peace is a just and lasting one that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  And as you heard today, Ukraine is proposing 10 common-sense principles that could serve as a roadmap to peace.  This war could, of course, end tomorrow if President Putin so chose, by withdrawing Russia’s forces from Ukraine.  But meanwhile, we have a plan put forward many weeks ago now by Ukraine.  I really commend the plan to each and every one of you and would ask you to consider the 10 principles and, of course, to stand with Ukraine on the path to a just and durable peace.

With that, we’re adjourned for today with my thanks, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing many of you in the days and weeks ahead.  Thanks, everyone, for joining today.


[1] Ms. Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-at-a-virtual-panel-session-on-a-just-and-lasting-peace-in-ukraine/

USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24 originally published at USA - USA DAILY NEWS 24