NEW YORK CITY – The Russian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly walked out of the hall before Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite took the floor.
Before the Lithuanian leader went up to the rostrum on Tuesday, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Pyotr Ilyichev and Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house raised from their seats and left the hall, reports Russian news agency TASS.
In her annual statement at the UN General Assembly in New York, President Dalia Grybauskaitė drew attention of the world towards threats posed by the Russian military exercise “Zapad 2017”.
The UN General Assembly is attended by the heads of almost 200 states of the world, including Latvia, Estonia Poland and Ukraine that are directly subjected to the threat posed by the exercise “Zapad 2017”.
According to the President, the world’s attention is now focused on North Korea, but the same methods of blackmail and aggression are being used in Ukraine and along NATO’s eastern border with Russia.
“Even as we speak, around one hundred thousand Russian troops are engaged in offensive military exercise “Zapad 2017” on the borders of the Baltic States, Poland and even in the Arctic. The Kremlin is rehearsing aggressive scenarios against its neighbors, training its army to attack the West. The exercise is also part of information warfare aimed at spreading uncertainty and fear,” said Dalia Grybauskaitė.
The President underscored that despite Russia’s special responsibility to protect international peace as permanent member of the Security Council, it violated the UN Charter by attacking Georgia, illegally annexing Crimea, and directly participating in the war in Eastern Ukraine.
The Kremlin’s arsenal does not stop at conventional weapons. Russia continues to meddle in elections of other states, conducts cyber-attacks and uses its “sputniks” to spread fake news and aggressive, destabilizing propaganda. Energy blackmail has long become Russia’s weapon of choice. In Belarus, just forty kilometers from Lithuania’s capital, it is building the unsafe Astravets nuclear power plant as a geopolitical weapon that fails to comply with basic international nuclear standards.
According to the President, abuses of basic international norms by regimes across the world are not isolated or unrelated cases. Too often, they are a result of our collective failure to condemn and properly react to violations.
Dalia Grybauskaitė stated that international community lacked determination and courage to enforce the rules that it had created. “We draw red lines ourselves and then pretend they don’t exist,” said the President.
This has to change. Bullies are aggressive precisely because they feel weak, insecure and because they do not receive an appropriate response. That is why we must stop being passive observers and start calling things by their own names.
“Aggression can never make anyone stronger. It can never earn anyone even a drop of respect. The only thing the aggression will bring is contempt, shame and condemnation. The international community has to take its share of responsibility. We cannot let fear win by closing our eyes to violators, because it will only encourage them to go further. Abuse of human rights, nationalistic rhetoric and suppression of free speech explode into violence if ignored, “said the President.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, we must change the United Nations. This unique universal body was established to save the world from wars. So far, it has failed to fulfill this promise. Now we face the choice: either we give this organization the voice to rise against the abuse or we will make it irrelevant.