Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska urged world leaders to help ensure the return of thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly taken by Russia.
According to Zelenska, more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly transferred or deported to Russia or the territories it has occupied.
The Ukrainian First Lady stated that in Russia, the children “were told that their parents don’t need them, that their country doesn’t need them, that nobody is waiting for them.”
“The abducted children were told that they are no longer Ukrainian children, that they are Russian children,” Zelenska said.
Zelenka divulged that Ukrainian authorities are also investigating more than 230 cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers against civilians, including 13 children.
She added that the child victims include 12 girls and one boy, with the youngest victim only four years old at the time of the alleged crime.
“I am turning to the UN Secretary-General and the entire organisation to help us save Ukrainian children,” Zelenska pleaded.
“Help us receive information on the children taken to Russia… Help us take children out of occupied territories through special safe corridors. Our children need justice.”Olena Zelenska
So far, only 386 abducted children have been brought back to Ukraine.
In his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the predicament of the deported Ukrainian children as a genocide.
“We are trying to get the children back home, but time goes by and 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.When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there.”Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Zelenskyy Accuses Russia Of Weaponising Food And Energy
Moreover, Zelenskyy accused Russia of weaponising food and energy.
“There are many conventions that restrict weapons but there are no real restrictions on weaponisation,” Zelenskyy noted.
He explained how Ukraine and its partners were trying to work around the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.
“Until now, our ports on the Danube River remain the target for missiles and drones. And it is a clear Russia’s attempt to weaponise the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition for some, if not all, of the captured territories.
“Russia is launching the food prices as weapons. The impact spans from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Southeast Asia. This is the threat scale.”Volodymyr Zelenskyy
However, he had bitter criticism for Ukraine’s neighbours who have periodically blocked the export of Ukrainian produce westwards for fear it would compete with domestic output and lower prices.
He said “some of our friends in Europe” whose expressions of solidarity were “political theatre” were, by restricting imports from Ukraine, “helping set the stage for a Moscow actor”.
Furthermore, Zelenskyy stated that Russia, having long used oil and gas as a weapon, was now weaponising nuclear energy, pointing to the occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which he said Moscow had turned into a potential “dirty bomb”.
According to Zelenskyy, the goal of the Russian military campaign was to turn Ukraine and its people, land and resources “into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order.”
If the Russians succeeded, he warned, “many seats in the general assembly hall may become empty.”
“We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges. It takes our unity to make sure that [such] aggression will not [happen] again.”Volodymyr Zelenskyy
He said that the Ukrainian peace plan, which involves a Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, accountability for war crimes and restitution for damages, represented “a real chance to end aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked.”
Zelenskyy added,“While Russia is pushing the world to a final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after this Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation.”
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