Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the United Nations Security Council

24.02.2023 - Speech


Bucha, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Bakhmut. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is causing nothing but destruction, suffering and death.

Yesterday, the General Assembly sent a powerful message against this ruthless war. An overwhelming majority of 141 states stood united for peace in Ukraine. A peace that is just, comprehensive and lasting. And the General Assembly presented a peace plan – a peace plan that is based on the principles of our UN Charter.

Today, the eyes of the world are on the Security Council – the body that bears primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security in this world.

Every further effort to move towards peace from a member of this Council is, from my point of view, valuable. But peace must mean peace. Peace must not mean that we ignore who the aggressor is – and who the victim.

Because subjugation is not peace. Not naming the aggressor would mean accepting a world in which the mightiest rule. It would mean accepting a world in which bombing schools, kidnapping children, and shooting people off their bicycles is a part of foreign policy. Not standing by the side of the victim would mean a world in which none of us would be able to sleep peacefully – because we would all have to fear an attack by a stronger neighbour. To prevent such a world, the United Nations was founded. That’s why we cannot stand idly by. The Charter obliges us – the nations of the world – to act.

Now, I know that some of you claim that by sanctioning the aggressor, by standing by the side of Ukraine, by supporting Ukraine in its right to self-defence, we are adding fuel to the fire.

I would like to ask you: Where would Ukraine – which voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons, because it believed in peace – be today if we had not supported its right to defend itself, supported its people – the elderly, mothers, fathers, children – together with so many international partners? Can we imagine what this would mean – to have more Buchas, Kharkivs, Mariupols, more Bakhmuts? More atrocities against civilians? More children drawing pictures of houses in which their loved ones once lived? More war crimes, more crimes against humanity. And us standing idly by?

I don’t want to imagine such a world. And I don’t want to be responsible for such a world. I think that most of us don’t want to be responsible for such a world.

Therefore, I would like to underline what Secretary Blinken said: If Ukraine stops defending itself, Ukraine ends. If we were to stop standing at the side of Ukraine, Ukraine would end.

The Russian representative asked just a couple of minutes ago here in this Council: Why do you think that Ukraine would end? Well, because one year ago, your President told us that he would like to demilitarise Ukraine. And as we have now seen, for 365 days and nights, what that meant.

Your tanks didn’t bring water, your planes didn’t drop baby nutrition. Night and day, your tanks and planes only brought destruction and death – to thousands, to fathers, mothers and children.

You also brought death and destruction around the world. Not directly, through tanks and bombs, but through the food crisis.

Yes, you can deceive yourself – but you cannot deceive the world. All those of us who sincerely and honestly believe in a peace that means peace, a peace based on the Charter of our United Nations, must show their true colours now – and stand by the peace plan of the General Assembly.

President Putin is speculating that, at some point, our clear stance against this war will weaken. He is speculating that, by staying the course, he will be rewarded for his war of aggression.

A war that is also causing great suffering to his own people. Some 200,000 Russians have already been killed or wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Russians have left their country because they don’t want to be part of this war. Russian children are going to schools in Germany – and I am very happy about this.

More than 1,000 international companies have pulled out of Russia – taking with them a crucial part of Russia’s prosperity and intelligence. This war is not the world’s war. This war is not the war of the Russian people. This war is Putin’s war. The Russian president is risking the future of his own country, of his own soldiers, of his own children. That’s why a just peace – the peace plan presented yesterday by 141 states at the General Assembly – is also in the interest of the people in Russia.

When I look around this table, I am under no illusion:

We will not convince the Russian representative today – he is not even listening. But what we can do is for this Council not to turn a blind eye to Bucha, Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Bakhmut – to the people and children of Ukraine. What we can do is stand up for a world where peace means peace.


Top of page