RIGA - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the UN General Assembly, used all types of arguments to sway as many member states as possible to the side of Ukraine, Artis Pabriks, founder of the Northern European Policy Center and former Latvian Defense Minister, told LETA.
Asked whether the Ukrainian President's address showed that Ukraine felt a lack of support in its war with Russia, Pabriks said that the UN General Assembly is a different format and the lack of support can be discussed in different categories, for example, when talking about the support provided mainly by Western countries and allies.
Pabriks believes that Zelensky has decided to use this format because he understands that we do not live in a united world. It is fragmented and up to 60 percent of the countries represented at the UN are relatively indifferent to what is happening in Ukraine. They are concerned about their own pain, whether it is a question of economic development, energy or food shortages.
"At the same time, the UN has its own fundamental principles, which are embedded in the origins of the organization. I think that Zelensky is using this platform successfully to appeal to the fundamental principles of the UN, which are to condemn aggression, to defend human rights and the sovereignty of states. In his speech, he points out that the organization must condemn aggression against Ukraine in a much stronger way," the former defense minister said.
According to Pabriks, Zelensky is also right to say that Russia does not deserve a seat among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Russia won a seat on the Council by inheriting it from the Soviet Union - when the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia became a permanent member.
"I think this is a very good argument that such a totalitarian aggressor state should not be on the UN Security Council, given that the Soviet Union was expelled from the predecessor of the UN, the League of Nations, after the Soviet Union attacked Finland in November 1939. There are parallels to be drawn here, in principle Russia could be excluded from the UN Security Council if the organization respected the principles to which the member states are signatories," said the founder of the Northern European Policy Center.
In his speech, Zelensky stressed that Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that no one in the world will dare to attack any country after Russia's aggression. Asked how Ukraine was doing at the moment, Pabriks said that while Ukraine had good support, it could be much better. The free world could have given Ukraine more, faster and more varied weapons. This argument is also used, for example, in the US presidential election debates. One of the Republican representatives, former US Vice-President Mike Pence, has said that, if elected, he will give Ukraine everything it needs to win.
Asked whether attempts to weaken Russia on the battlefield, insufficient military support or delaying military support would lead to a freezing of the conflict, the former defense minister stressed that a freezing of the conflict must not be allowed because it would not lead to anything good. Moreover, there are a number of countries that would not want to allow that to happen, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, Poland, even Germany has quite a lot of understanding of what is going on.
"This hesitation is probably due to a misunderstanding of how Russian policy is made and what the Kremlin is thinking. The idea is that we will tire the Russians more than the Ukrainians, then there will come a moment when the Russians will realize that they have to come to the negotiating table because the damage is too great. It should be remembered that Russia is three times the size of Ukraine, and the Ukrainians are bleeding too. By giving them more, faster and better weapons, we could achieve our goal sooner. This is my position, but thinking in the West often differs from our analysis," Pabriks said.
Asked how the upcoming US presidential election would affect the course of the war, Pabriks admitted that there is a rather high expectation in Russian circles, similar to Adolf Hitler's expectation of a "Wunderwaffe" or miracle weapon - that if a president more favorable to Russia wins the presidential election, Russia could break the West's support for Ukraine.
"If there is not much progress in terms of arms and the military, I think it will make the Russian leadership hold on and fight until the US presidential elections, hoping that something will change. This suggests that the war could last another year. If in the coming months the Ukrainians succeed in making Crimea uninhabitable and militarily unusable for the Russian side, this could change the course of the war," Pabriks stressed.
He also pointed out that there are many unknowns to predict the course of events. These include the US presidential elections, military support for Ukraine, what position China will continue to take. In the area that analyses and is responsible for security, the worst-case scenario is always being prepared for. This means that we, too, need to secure ourselves, just as Finland did in the 1920s and 1930s. Pabriks pointed out that the issue is not about building a fence on the Belarusian border. What is needed now is to build technological structures and formations for the 21st century along the entire Eastern border, with the future security of the country in mind.