Zelensky Calls for ‘just Punishment’ for Russia
Russia must face “just punishment” over its invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the UN General Assembly in New York.
In a pre-recorded video, the Ukrainian leader called for the creation of a special war tribunal and detailed alleged war crimes by Russia.
He also set out a “formula“, including more military support and to punish Russia on the world stage.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin had earlier called up 300,000 reservists for duty.
The move prompted rare protests in dozens of Russian cities and Mr. Zelensky said “the partial mobilisation showed his enemy was not serious about peace talks.” Monitoring group OVD-Info said 1,315 Russians had been arrested.
The Ukrainian leader said creating a special tribunal would help hold Moscow to account for stealing territory and murdering thousands of people. His address on Wednesday received a ‘standing ovation’ from many of the session’s attendees.
Despite Russia’s decision to bolster its military campaign, the two sides took part in the biggest exchange of prisoners since the start of the war.
In a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia, 215 fighters were returned to the Ukrainian side, including 10 foreigners – while Russia took back 55 soldiers. “Pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvechuk was also part of the swap.” He has been seen as President Putin’s closest ally in Ukraine and faced treason charges.
Ukraine said that among those released were 108 members of the ‘Azov battalion’ who for weeks defied Russia’s bombardment of Mariupol and the city’s steel plant. Battalion commander Denys Prokopenko and his deputy were among five senior officers freed.
Ten foreign prisoners held by Russian-backed forces were also released, including five British nationals and two Americans.
In his UN address, Mr. Zelensky condemned Russian plans to stage so-called referendums on joining Russia in occupied areas of Ukraine. “The vote which is due to start on Friday has been widely condemned as a sham by Western leaders.”
BBC /Shakirat Sadiq