Secretary of State Penny Wong will use her speech at Friday’s UN General Assembly meeting to label Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats as “weak and desperate” as she calls on China and the world community to step up pressure on Moscow. to end the invasion of Ukraine.
Most important points:
- Penny Wong will intensify her criticism of Russia after announcing it will mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to fight in Ukraine
- Foreign Minister will focus on Russia’s actions at the United Nations during the war in Ukraine
- She will call on Beijing to increase pressure on Moscow to end the war
Australia has been a strong critic of the Russian invasion and is the largest donor of military equipment to Ukraine outside of NATO.
Senator Wong will step up her criticism in the wake of Putin’s announcement earlier this week that Russia will mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to fight in Ukraine after a series of military setbacks.
“We cannot accept a situation where big countries determine the fate of smaller countries. Therefore, Russia’s illegal, immoral invasion of Ukraine cannot be normalized and can not be minimized,” Senator Wong will say, according to a copy of her speech given to the media.
“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an attack on all smaller countries. It is a claim that a larger country has the right to subjugate a smaller neighbor – to decide whether another country can even exist.”
When announcing the partial mobilization, Putin made thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons, saying that Russia would “certainly make use of all the weapon systems at our disposal” if its “territorial integrity” were threatened.
Senator Wong called his warning “unthinkable” earlier this week, and she will tell the General Assembly on Friday that they were also a reminder of the dangers of nuclear weapons.
“Putin’s weak and desperate nuclear threats underscore the danger nuclear weapons pose to all of us, and the urgent need for progress on nuclear disarmament,” the speech said.
“Australia has always pursued a world without nuclear weapons, and we will redouble our efforts to achieve this goal – and to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.”
Foreign Minister calls on China to increase pressure on Moscow
The foreign minister will also focus on Russia’s actions at the United Nations during the war in Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Russia used its position as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to block a resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine while China abstained.
Senator Wong will suggest that Russia’s actions risk undermining the body’s credibility.
“The Security Council’s veto power was never intended to be used to allow unchecked misuse of the UN charter – by the countries that have been vetoed,” the foreign minister will say.
Separately, she will reiterate Australia’s support for Security Council reform to ensure “greater permanent representation for Africa, Latin America and Asia, including India and Japan”.
She will also briefly call on Beijing to increase pressure on Russia to end the war.
“It is especially important for countries leading international forums, and countries with influence over Russia, to use their influence to end this war,” she said.
“In this pursuit, the world is looking to China, a great power, a permanent member of the Security Council, with a no-limits partnership with Russia.”