GITANAS NAUSÈDA, President of Lithuania, recalling the struggles of creating a peaceful global coexistence in the aftermath of the Second World War, said the unjustified, unprovoked and illegal war in Ukraine was a gross violation of international law that undermined the very essence of the United Nations. Despite the toll it has taken, the war has not broken the will of the brave Ukrainian people, who have endured torture, killings and displacement in defending their territorial integrity, he said, calling on the international community to take an even more active role in supporting the resilience of Ukraine. Every United Nations member, he stressed, must respect the rules of international order and must decide what is tolerable. “Today I call on all of you. Look at what is happening in Ukraine. Look at it attentively. Who is the aggressor and who is the victim?” he said. The Russian Federation’s destructive actions have undermined international security for years, he said, from breaching arms control treaties to using prohibited chemical weapons to the continued violations of the territorial integrity of neighbours. In providing support for offensive operations against Ukraine, Belarus has surrendered its national sovereignty to the Russian Federation.
Turning to military actions of the Russian Federation at the Zaphorizhzhia nuclear plant and its “irresponsible” rhetoric, he called for the collective condemnation of these actions and for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all troops, military, and other personnel from Ukraine, especially the Zaporizhzhia plant. In welcoming the active and personal involvement of the Secretary-General, he acknowledged the efforts of Türkiye and other actors such as the African Union in achieving a deal to resume grain exports. While international efforts have helped to avert a global catastrophe, he warned that global hunger will continue to remain a potential threat until the Russian Federation withdraws its armed forces from Ukraine.
Guaranteeing justice and accountability, he pointed out, is vital to the credibility of the United Nations and the international community. He urged all to consolidate and advance legal efforts. “We must ensure that all those responsible for this unprecedented assault on Ukrainian and European peace and security” are held accountable,” he said. He reiterated Lithuania’s commitment to engage in accountability mechanisms and called upon the global community to establish the Special Tribunal to address war crimes and to ensure effective forms of reparations for the victims of these crimes.
The war in Ukraine is an extension of the wider context of developments in the Russian Federation and in Belarus, he said, namely the decline of civil liberties, brutal repression, deteriorating human rights situations, and attacks on independent media and civil society. The growing situation of political prisoners in Belarus is particularly alarming. While Lithuania has provided asylum to persecuted representatives of non-governmental organizations and independent media, the international community must pay more attention. As business-as-usual is no longer an approach, he invited all countries to “stop financing the bloody war by buying [the] aggressor’s energy resources” as Lithuania has done by building its energy independence and accelerating its green transition.
In highlighting Lithuania’s support for Ukraine from providing military and humanitarian aid to welcoming more than 60,000 refugees, he warned that peace must not come at any cost. Anything other than the full restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine only invites further atrocities and long-standing insecurity.
While the aggressor has already demonstrated its eagerness to endanger the global population, we should not allow ourselves to be frightened,” he said. “The danger is real. As history shows, to push back against the aggressor is the only viable option!” In appealing to the transformative power of collective action based on the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law to ensure global peace and security, he reiterated Lithuania’s commitment in fighting for long-lasting peace.