I want to express my gratitude to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in particular for uniting us and bringing to light Russia’s illegitimate annexation of Crimea in 2014. That land grab in 2014 served as the prelude to the current conflict, and we should have the humility to admit that not everyone appreciated the scope of what was happening at the time.
However, after Putin intensified his assault on Ukraine on February 24 of this year, all of our nations reacted forcefully and in unison. However, the first act of this tragedy began eight years earlier, almost to the day, when Russian forces started spreading out across Crimea and seizing control of a peninsula that makes up 10,000 square miles of sovereign Ukrainian territory.
Putin abruptly and forcefully redrawn a European border for the first time since 1945, annexing a portion of a European nation.
I can’t name them all, but they include Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and the Russia-Ukraine Treaty of Friendship. He also disregarded the fact that Russia has consistently acknowledged Crimea as being a part of Ukraine.
The people of Crimea have also been subjected to a brutal and systematic campaign of human rights violations by the Russian government ever since the annexation, including the persecuting of the Tatars, arbitrary arrests—with a tenfold increase in detentions in the previous year—and the restriction of land ownership to Russian citizens.
After seizing control of the peninsula, Putin stationed an increasing number of Russian troops there, turning the area into a base of operations from which to threaten the rest of Ukraine. As a result, Crimea served as the starting point for the invasion on February 24.
Or even one of the launchers. And I’m worried that all of this is much more relevant now since Putin plans to grab additional territory and have more phoney referendums in Ukraine, essentially doing the same thing he did to Crimea.
Since no area, no country, may acquire territory or alter boundaries by force of arms, it is imperative that we all stand together in defence of this fundamental tenet of international law. As a result, we will never recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other Ukrainian land.
Until Russia puts a stop to this dreadful conflict and withdraws its soldiers from all of Ukraine, we must continue to provide our Ukrainian allies with the military, humanitarian, economic, and diplomatic help they need in the face of Putin’s onslaught.
I’m grateful to you all.