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Moscow is “weaponising” access to food and energy in its war against Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told world leaders on Tuesday, urging them to stand firm against Russia's “genocide”.
His fiery speech was the first time he had addressed the UN General Assembly in person since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Mr Zelenskyy appeared by video last year, but much has changed in the 12 months since, with international support for Kyiv in the expensive conflict waning.
“When hatred is weaponised against one nation, it never stops there,” he said at the UN's annual top-level meeting.
“The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you – against the international rules-based order.”
The Ukrainian leader, who wore a military-green shirt, also called for Russia's nuclear disarmament.
“Terrorists have no right to hold nuclear weapons,” he said.
Mr Zelenskyy accused Russia of using food as a weapon by pulling out of the Black Sea grain deal, and said Moscow had used energy as a weapon “many times”.
“Now our ports on the Danube River remain the target of missiles and drones,” he said.
“It is clear Russia's attempt to weaponise the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition for some, if not all of the captured territories.”
Mr Zelenskyy also condemned Moscow for its expansionist goals.
“Russia has almost swallowed Belarus, it is obviously threatening Kazakhstan and now the Baltic states,” he said.
Despite his highly anticipated speech, the General Assembly chamber was far from full as Mr Zelenskyy thanked leaders for their support and tried to rally them for more.
He renewed an invitation for world leaders to join a “peace summit” to end the war on Ukraine's terms.
“For the first time in modern history, we have the chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked,” he said in a speech met with applause led by western nations.
“This is a real chance for every nation – to ensure that aggression against your state, if it happens, God forbid, will end not because your land will be divided."
Mr Zelenksyy also condemned Russia for abducting Ukraine’s children.
“We know the names of tens of thousands of children and have evidence on hundreds of thousands of others kidnapped by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine and later deported,” he said.
"Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine, and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide. When hatred is weaponised against one nation, it never stops there."