Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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UK on multilateralism: ‘I see nothing effective nor multilateral in Russia’s foreign policy’

By Barbara Woodward

At the outset let me echo the strong concerns set out by the secretary-general about the situation in Sudan and the call for an immediate end to the violence. We have requested a Council meeting to address the situation tomorrow. I join others in thanking the Secretary-General for his briefing.

Minister Lavrov has called this meeting to share the Russian vision for the future of multilateralism.

We’ve seen what Russia’s idea of multilateralism means for the world. More than a year into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Putin has brought unimaginable suffering to that country, while trampling over the UN Charter. Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed. Millions have been displaced. Across the world, billions have faced rocketing commodity prices and food insecurity.

It has been an unmitigated disaster for Russia, too. Neither Russia nor its neighbours feel safer. Trust in Russia’s promises to other States and to its own people is at a catastrophic low.

Again and again the UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s invasion. President Putin can count the supporters of his war on one hand.

Russia has severely damaged its reputation in the international community, and now President Putin is threatening to move nuclear weapons into a neighbouring State.

For Russians the world is getting smaller. Many tens of thousands of Russian men and women have been killed. Hundreds of thousands have been mobilised against their will, millions are fleeing the country to escape the draft. Independent journalists have been arrested, free speech has been crushed. Russia’s economy is shrinking, its army is in disarray, reliant on Wagner – an unaccountable mercenary group whose existence was denied a year ago, but who now offers your ministry advice on your Security Council presidency.

A Russian generation has lost its future, and the Russian Government can’t even explain why. Russia’s justifications for the war – defeating Nazis and defending against bio-weapons – are obvious falsehoods. Russia’s claims to Ukraine’s territory will never be recognised. For all of Lavrov’s claims about effective multilateralism, I see nothing effective nor multilateral in Russia’s foreign policy.

Multilateral institutions can and should evolve – the Security Council included, and we support reforms to make it more effective and representative. Change must be underpinned by respect for the basic principles of the Charter, above all the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The world also needs a free and safe Ukraine that can return to supplying the world with food. The UK will continue to stand together with Ukraine as it lawfully defends itself.

Foreign minister Lavrov claims he is interested in ending the conflict as soon as possible. To do so, Russia must immediately remove its troops from all Ukrainian territory.



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