UNITED NATIONS (AP) — This was the only video speech at the United Nations General Assembly, and it came from someone with an official pretext: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Member States voted overwhelmingly despite the summit returning entirely in person to UN headquarters in New York this year, following a remote version in 2020 and a hybrid meeting last year. The war-torn head of state was given a speech in the lobby last week.
But there is some persistence. In his speech on Wednesday, Zelensky did not let them off the hook.
“I want to thank the 101 countries that voted for my video speech. This was not just a vote on format. It was a vote on principle. Only seven countries voted against: Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria,” Zelensky said. “Seven. Seven people who are afraid of video addresses. Seven people who respond to principles with red buttons. Only seven. One hundred and one-seven.”
There were 19 abstentions.
Sitting in the hall as Zelensky spoke was his wife Olena Zelenska, and the Russian delegation. The latter sat throughout the speech, choosing not to go out — a recognized form of protest. Zelensky’s speech received a standing ovation from several delegations.
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