In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg defended sanctions against Russia against “false stories” and described the war in Ukraine as a “fundamental threat to all of us”.
Efforts are being made to spread the word that the current food, energy and financial crisis is linked to these sanctions, Schallenberg said in New York on Thursday, making clear: “That’s just wrong!” “There are no EU sanctions for the export of grain, oilseeds or other foodstuffs, fertilizer or gas to third countries,” the ÖVP Foreign Minister emphasized in front of the assembled global community. “Instead, the Russian Federation is cynically arming food and energy.” Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing “millions of needy people around the world into poverty, hunger and debt.” According to the UN’s Global Crisis Response Group, 1.7 billion people around the world are now affected.
Although the conflict in Ukraine is happening in Europe, it is not a “European war,” Schallenberg said, emphasizing his stance. But it was also “not a conflict between East and West or North and South,” the foreign minister argued. “The dividing line is between the rule of law and the law of the jungle.” It is also a “blatant and willful violation of the United Nations’ founding charter”.
“Rule of law replaced by law of the jungle”
In addition, this violation was “not committed by any state,” Schallenberg recalled, but by a permanent member of the UN Security Council, “the body responsible for upholding the Charter and international peace and security.” The 53-year-old stressed that the basis of “our security and stability would be called into question”. “Suddenly we find ourselves in a world where the rule of law is being replaced by the law of the jungle.” Such a world “poses a fundamental threat to all of us, especially to smaller countries like Austria”.
“Russia’s attack was like a geopolitical bucketful of ice thrown in our face,” Schallenberg said vividly. “It has brutally brought us out of our daydreams of a post-historic, post-national Europe.” Russia wanted to pay off its neo-imperialist associated calculations “bombs and bayonets,” the foreign minister continued, “by targeting civilians and committing atrocities classified as war crimes under international humanitarian law.” These “bombs and bayonets” would also target “the world’s most vulnerable countries,” the foreign minister said. “They are plunging them into a triple crisis of food, energy and financial shortages.”
“Let’s be ready to defend our values”
The speech in which Putin announced a partial mobilization of the Russian population on Wednesday made it clear “that this conflict will not end soon,” the foreign minister lamented. But he immediately became combative: “We must not fall into fear, self-doubt and defeatism. Let us be unwavering and ready to defend our values.”