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    Threat front // How the UN General Assembly was worried about the escalation around Ukraine, but did not come to anything

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    The high-level week at the UN General Assembly is coming to an end without giving the international community an answer to the main question: how to get out of the crisis in Ukraine, which has escalated to such an extent that the world is seriously talking about a potential nuclear war. Although, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, now it is not worth “engaging in gloomy forecasts,” but if part of the Ukrainian territories becomes part of Russia, he recalled, all “laws, doctrines, concepts, strategies” of the Russian Federation will apply to them. One way or another, everyone in New York expressed concern about the escalation around Ukraine, but no one could offer a recipe for resolving the conflict that pushed the world to a dangerous line.

    Monday, September 26, will be the final day of discussions at the High-Level Week within the framework of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. On this day, the UN will celebrate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Another thing is that there is nothing special for the world community to celebrate yet – now more and more often it is not about getting rid of nuclear weapons, but about their potential use. From September 23 to 27, in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, which are under the control of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, the DPR and LPR, referendums are being held, as a result of which these Ukrainian territories will most likely be accepted into Russia. And then the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressed in his recent address, will apply to them: “When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”

    US President Joe Biden was one of the first to respond to these words, assuring that if Moscow decides to use nuclear weapons, “it will change the nature of war like never since the Second World War” , and “the nature of the response will be determined by what the Russians do.”

    However, this attempt is unlikely to reassure anyone much: the hints of the two largest nuclear powers – the Russian Federation and the United States – about the possibility of using nuclear weapons and retaliatory measures, seem to frighten everyone. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the geopolitical situation in the world is “going downhill” and a “big, big, big world conflict” is coming, which his country will try to survive. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly that the current situation does not bode well. Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the diplomat called on the international community to “respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all security of all countries, peacefully resolve disputes through dialogue.” And before that, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stressed that Beijing is ready to cooperate with the international community to resolve the situation in Ukraine and calls on “the parties to the conflict to properly resolve differences through dialogue and consultations.” At the UN Security Council ministerial meeting on Ukraine on September 22, the Mexican Foreign Ministry Marcelo Ebrard, on behalf of the country’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador, proposed the creation of a committee for dialogue and peace in Ukraine, with the participation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis. On September 25, from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly, the proposal of Mr. Obrador on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was supported by the Foreign Minister of this country, Carlos Faria. According to Mr. Maduro, the international community should immediately embark on the path of diplomacy, because “humanity will not survive the world war.”

    make gloomy predictions. During a press conference in New York on September 24, Sergei Lavrov also recalled that Russia was not the first to raise the nuclear issue. Thus, even before the outbreak of hostilities in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Kyiv’s refusal of nuclear weapons a mistake, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian “loudly declared that Russia should remember that France also has its own nuclear weapons.” The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry did not forget about the words of British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who answered the journalist’s question in the affirmative whether she was ready to press the “red button” if necessary. In the case of Russia, Mr. Lavrov advised everyone to re-read the doctrine “On the Fundamentals of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” “I invite you to look again at absolutely clearly defined cases when we allow the use of nuclear weapons,” the Russian Foreign Minister said. For example, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said on September 24 that the conflict had reached “a dangerous moment” and “when people say they are not bluffing, you have to take it seriously.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also calls for taking the situation seriously, although he believes that the likelihood of using nuclear weapons is still low, and Moscow is aware of the “grave consequences” of such a step. As always, British Prime Minister Liz Truss stood out among Western voices for her toughness. “We should not listen to his empty threats,” Ms. Truss said in an interview with CNN on September 25, commenting on the words of Vladimir Putin. In her opinion, Western countries should continue to impose sanctions against the Russian Federation and support Ukraine.

    This was also expressed with varying degrees of certainty during the UN General Assembly by those countries that are not included in the category of “unfriendly”. “The Republic of Serbia, in accordance with the UN Charter, as well as in accordance with the generally accepted principles and norms of international law, cannot accept the results of the referendum in the Ukrainian regions,” said Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic. And the official representative of the Turkish President, Ibrahim Kalin, noted that Ankara’s position “has not changed since 2014, when we did not recognize the results of the referendum in Crimea.” He also added that “Turkey is the only country that is making efforts to end the war.” Despite refusing to recognize the referendums, Ankara, according to Mr. Kalin, considers what is happening to be “a new phase in the ongoing struggle between Russia and the West.” Belarus is not ready to unambiguously promise recognition of referendums either. According to the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the republic, Vladimir Makei, “no one can accurately predict what will happen tomorrow,” so Minsk will study the situation and make a decision in accordance with its national interests, “and not the interests of any other country.”

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