Russia launched its illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine a year ago. The world has felt the repercussions of Russia’s violence. Russia must withdraw from Ukraine and stop causing so much chaos and death. As a direct result of this aggression, thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, the world’s supply chains have been damaged, and food security is increasingly under pressure.
The war is a choice. That choice belongs to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. President Putin can end the war by withdrawing his troops back to Russia and allowing Ukrainians to get on with their lives once more.
Russia’s actions are a serious breach of the United Nations Charter, and the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. These principles are part of the bedrock on which the UN is built. It is unacceptable for Russia to violate the principles of the United Nations. If Russia can invade and conquer territory, which other large countries should also be allowed to annex and conquer their neighbours?
The UN came together after World War II, a conflict in which Basotho fought so honourably against those who believed that only the powerful and mighty should survive. President Putin’s war today dishonours his country and makes a mockery of the principles Russia must stand for as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
This war has left over 130 million people across Africa in crisis levels of food insecurity. Despite Russia’s aggression, the international community has worked hard to keep global food supplies steady – for instance through the Black Sea Grain Initiative which allows both Russia and Ukraine to keep exporting grain out of the conflict zone.
The impacts are clearly being felt, even in Russia.
We mourn for all who have been killed in Ukraine. We mourn for the Ukrainian children killed by Russian missile strikes. We mourn for the Russian conscripts forced to fight for their leader’s foolish pride. We mourn for prisoners in Russia from all over the world, including people from across Africa, who had no choice but to fight and die for a vicious Russian mercenary group and were killed on the battlefield.
We must work together to secure a lasting peace which respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and defends the UN Charter. It is for Ukraine to determine its position in any negotiations, just as it is for Ukraine to determine its democratic future. As friends and international partners to Ukraine we will always work to protect and defend the country’s sovereignty.
Ukraine and its partners seek a diplomatic solution to the war, and an end to the bloodshed and destruction inflicted on the Ukrainian people. The shortest route to end the war – and the uncertainty and suffering it has caused – is peace, which sees the withdrawal of Russian forces on Ukrainian soil.
This unprovoked war cannot continue for another year. It should not continue for one more day.
A year into Russia’s war, as brave Ukrainians fight for survival and their country’s independence, we continue to stand united with Ukraine. It is crucial to present a united front, emboldened by the UN Charter, to deny Russia – or any other country for that matter – the opportunity to undermine peace and stability in our world. The international community cannot accept violations of the core principles of the UN Charter. Lesotho has always stood up in support of the peace that prevails between nations around the world, the prosperity that comes from friendship and partnerships, and the blessings that nourish and water precious life wherever it exists.
I am honoured to be here in Lesotho in this moment of great hope for the country despite the darkness cast over Ukraine and the world by Russia.
Khotso. Pula. Nala.