Speech by Minister Hanke Bruins Slot at the UN General Assembly

Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot at The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York on the second anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine. 

The spoken word applies.

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Image: ©UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

There’s a picture that I’d like to show here today, but I cannot.

The photo is of a man whose name I’d like to mention here today, but I cannot.

Because it would put him in danger.

And so, today I will call him ‘Andrei’.

He’s a commander in the Ukrainian army.

A young father with a family.

For two years, he’s been fighting for the peace and security of his owncountry.

For two years, he’s barely seen his family.

Because Andrei does not allow himself a moment's rest.

He’s prioritising his children's future over the precious moments he’d love to spend with them now.

It’s the most impressive encounter I’ve had in my role as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Not for a moment – not one second – does he allow himself to lose focus, to feel doubt, or simply to recharge.

Not for a moment does he allow himself to even think about giving up.

It’s this strength, this resilience, that I see in the eyes of all the Ukrainians I meet.

It’s truly remarkable how the people of Ukraine have been able to withstand Russia’s aggression for so long.

Mr President,

In the same vein, we must continue to support Ukraine,

at the same time when our attention and action are required in so many other places:

The conflict between Israel and Hamas, resulting in so many innocent victims.

The grim tragedy unfolding in Sudan.

And the misery in so many other places in the world.

Violence that is driving communities to despair.

Violence that must be stopped.

And that’s precisely why we can’t allow our gaze to shift away from Ukraine.

Not only because Russia is slowly destroying Ukraine,

but because Russia’s war in Ukraine is an assault on the world.

On the principle of sovereignty that we all stand for.

On the UN Charter that we all signed.

On the rules-based order that we all value.

And so it is in our interest for Ukraine to withstand Russia’s aggression.

For it to stop Russia’s aggression.

And that’s why we must support Ukraine.

Not half-heartedly. Not temporarily.   

We must do whatever it takes.

For as long as it takes.

Because there can be no lasting security without recovery.
And there can be no lasting peace without justice.

Indeed, the only viable end to the war is a just peace.

That’s why we support Zelensky’s Peace Formula.

And it is why we are taking the lead in restoring justice for Ukraine.

It’s in our common interest to hold the perpetrators of this war to account.

Because there can never be peace without justice for the victims.

Mr President,

Over the past two years, we’ve all seen how food prices have skyrocketed.

How energy prices have soared.

And how hunger has increased in some of the world’s most vulnerable places.

This senseless war of choice needs to stop.

For all our sakes.

My hope is vested in collaboration that endures, even when times are tough.

Because, in an increasingly polarised world, such collaboration can help us reach shared goals.

And so my hope is vested in us, in everyone gathered here, in this esteemed assembly.

While our perspectives may vary, sometimes even radically, we all want to forge a tomorrow that is safer, more stable, and more prosperous than it is now.

Not a tomorrow where might is right.
But a legacy we all want for our children.

In the spirit of Andrei, we must prioritise the future of our world – the future of our children, over our differences. 
And so we must support Ukraine.

We must do whatever it takes. For as long as it takes.

Thank you.