Zelenskyy says he is "not afraid" as Putin makes nuclear threats
zUnited Nations — Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke live by video conference on Tuesday to world powers at the U.N. Security Council, slamming the illegitimate votes that Russia is forcing on citizens in occupied Ukraine. His speech came as Moscow-backed officials declared that all four regions voted in favor of joining Russia.
"In front of the eyes of the whole world, Russia is conducting this so-called sham referenda on the occupied territory of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said. "People are forced to fill out some papers while being threatened by submachine guns."
He said that the proposed annexation of occupied territories in Ukraine, as a result of the vote, "is an attempt to steal the territory of another state...a very cynical attempt to force the male population in the occupied territory of Ukraine to mobilize into the Russian army in order to send them to fight against their own homeland."
In response to Russia's actions, Zelenskyy called on nations to completely isolate Russia by removing it as a permanent member of the Security Council — with the right of veto — and excluding it from all international organizations; impose stronger sanctions against Russia; send Ukraine necessary defense and financial support; and give Ukraine "clear and legally-binding guarantees of collective security."
"Such a clear signal is what is now needed from every country in the world. I believe in your ability to act," Zelenskyy said.
Back in April, the Ukrainian leader spoke to the Security Council, presenting evidence that Russian forces deliberately killed civilians, many of them shot in yards, streets and homes, and left their bodies in the open. He again detailed the atrocities committed against the country's civilians when he spoke to the U.N. General Assembly last week, and asked the U.N. to hold Russia accountable for the alleged crimes.
Tuesday's address was intended to lay out what the world must do to stop Russia from annexing Ukrainian territory.
On the implications, Zelenskyy has been clear. The "pseuda referenda," Zelenskyy said last week on CBS News' "Face the Nation," makes it impossible "to continue any diplomatic negotiations."
As Zelenskyy spoke on Tuesday, the Kremlin announced all four occupied regions of Ukraine voted to join Russia, clearing the way for — in Russia's view — annexation of the occupied regions.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia objected at the onset of the meeting to a live videoconference address by Ukraine's president – suggesting that only in-person participation is appropriate, and again spoke of "Russophobic hysteria."
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the U.S. and Albania would introduce a Security Council resolution to condemn the "sham referenda." She was joined by Albania's Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, a co-sponsor of the measure.
The draft resolution, obtained by CBS News, demands that Russian forces leave Ukraine, and reaffirms the "commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders." It goes on to say that the referenda "have no validity and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine."
The U.S.-Albania resolution "calls on all states calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any purported acquisition by the Russian Federation of any or all of Ukraine's regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson or Zaporizhzhya, and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status."
During Tuesday's meeting, Thomas-Greenfield told diplomats that the purpose of the referenda is evident: "Russia intends to try to annex these territories."
"Putin intentionally chose this moment to insult the Charter that outlines principles we all collectively stand for — sovereignty, territorial integrity, peace and security," she said last week, as diplomats from almost 200 nations were at U.N. headquarters.
She described in brutal detail what was happening with the Russian vote, calling it "a well-worn Kremlin playbook."
"Russia runs sham referenda, in areas controlled by Russia's military and its proxies, coercing people to 'vote' at gunpoint," Thomas-Greenfield. "It then uses these referenda to try to lend a semblance of legitimacy to its attempted annexations of another sovereign state's territory."
She said that the U.S. "will never recognize any territory Russia attempts to seize or allegedly annex as anything other than part of Ukraine."
Thomas-Greenfield clarified that the resolution that will be introduced — and surely vetoed by Russia — will be brought to the General Assembly "to send an unmistakable message to Moscow."
Hoxha, who co-sponsored the resolution, echoed concerns over Russia's referenda.
"We see protests against the call for going to Ukraine, because we believe that the Russian citizens do not want to go there, why they have to die in this war they do not want," Hoxha said.
After the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that the resolution will be introduced later this week or early next week in the Security Council.
- Vladimir Putin
- Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Pamela Falk is the CBS News correspondent covering the United Nations, and an international lawyer.
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