March 31, 2023

United Nations (AP) – The only video speech at the United Nations General Assembly came from someone with an official alibi: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

While the summit returned entirely in person to the United Nations Headquarters in New York this year after a teleconference in 2020 and a mixed session last year, member states voted overwhelmingly. Last week to allow the head of the war-torn country to speak in the hall.

But there were a few strongholds. In his speech on Wednesday, Zelensky did not let them get away with it.

“I would like to thank the 101 countries that voted for my video title. It was a vote not only on the format. It was a vote on principles. Only seven countries voted against: Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria,” Zelensky said. “Seven. Seven who are afraid of the title of the video. Seven respond to principles with a red button. Only seven. One hundred and one – and seven.”

19 countries abstained from voting.

I sat in the General Assembly hall during Zelensky’s speech, his wife Olena Zelenska, and the Russian delegation. The latter remained seated during the speech, choosing not to withdraw—a form of protest permitted. Zelensky’s speech was warmly welcomed by several delegations.


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