President of Ukraine

Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Plenary Session “Re-Imagining Solutions for Global Peace and Regional Stability” Held in Singapore

2 June 2024 - 10:20

Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Plenary Session “Re-Imagining Solutions for Global Peace and Regional Stability” Held in Singapore

Mr. Giegerich,

Dear Ministers of Defense,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear journalists,

I’m pleased to address you here today at IISS Shangri-La Dialogue.

For many years in such Summits, including here, in Singapore, people discussed the importance of diplomacy.

It’s often said that brutal force should not dominate the world. Similarly, attempts by various power centers to impose something on other nations against their will in politics, economy, or security should not dominate either. Diplomacy should be those caring and strong hands that prevent international disputes from turning into fights, restraining the most aggressive parties. This is how diplomacy often worked in the past. But frankly, the last few decades have not been a time for diplomacy. We have all felt this, and each region, sometimes even countries, has its own experience of how diplomacy has degraded leaving only disappointment behind. 

In the 1990s, Ukraine suffered one of the greatest deceptions in modern history when the security assurances from nuclear powers – in exchange for the nuclear arsenal located in Ukraine, did not translate into real security. It was exactly 28 years ago these days, when Ukraine handed over its last nuclear warheads to Russia, in line with a multilateral international agreement. And it is Russia that has tried to erase Ukraine from the political map of the world. In the 2000s, Ukraine faced the first obvious violations by Russia on our territory and sovereignty, revealing that there was no element of the world’s security architecture capable of restraining Russia and forcing it to stick to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. So, Putin believes he is allowed to do anything. By the mid-2010s, Russia brought a war to our land – a war that we in Ukraine never, never, never wanted, did not provoke, and which expanded into the most treacherous invasion Europe has experienced since World War II. 

All of this was a series of diplomatic failures and constant attempts to keep the world divided into spheres of influence – which disrupts nations’ lives and corrupts global powers. As a result – war. When unity was needed, the world was divided. When bold decisions were required, many were content with the status quo. And when preventive action was necessary to avoid the worst, the aggressor was somehow given time to prepare – we remember how Moscow tempted the world with the talks, all of which resulted in hollow words or unacceptable ultimatums. Thus, we found ourselves in a war that now affects everyone in the world and spreads a globally dangerous cult of violence instead of trust in international law, trust that diplomacy should strengthen.

But Ukraine will not complain. I am here to state: we have found a way to restore diplomacy. This is the goal I spoke about at the Shangri-La Dialogue, now we can make it real.

Dear friends!

Not so long ago it seemed that the world would always be fragmented. But we saw that most nations truly desire and are capable of cooperation, at least as far as collective security is concerned. A clear example are the coalitions from military to humanitarian, formal and informal, which help us withstand the war and prevent Russia from expanding it. These coalitions, supporting Ukraine, unite countries from all continents – with different characters and worldviews. What brought them together? Naturally, diplomacy. Diplomacy does work – when it truly aims to protect life.

Together with partners, we are defending life and rules-based world order. We are working to obtain air defense systems, and co-produce weaponry and drones. We train our soldiers together. We counter cyber threats together. We restore energy infrastructure damaged by Russian terror together. Just now, on Sunday night, Ukraine faced another round of Russian strikes – during one day, imagine, nearly a hundred missiles and drones. This has happened hundreds of times throughout the war, and no country could handle this alone, and I thank everyone in the world who helps us with air defense systems, saving the lives of our people, and the best Patriot systems. The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, and other partners who help us, thank you so much. Together we are also bringing back Ukrainian children who were deported to Russia from the occupied territories of our country. We know for sure about 20,000 Ukrainian children who were kidnapped and taken to Russia – we know their names. And Russia itself claimed that it took several hundred thousand of our children from the occupied territory of Ukraine – only the worst criminals do such things. We must bring all of our children back to Ukraine, to relatives, to parents. I thank Qatar for the help and other partner countries. Also, together with our partners, we are bringing back our captured soldiers. 

There are already dozens such joint initiatives, and they work not only for Ukraine. Countries from Libya and Sudan to Bangladesh, consume food produced in Ukraine. All of them benefited directly when we lifted the Russian blockade of our ports and resumed our food exports. Initially, this was achieved through international mediation – together with Türkiye and the UN. Later, when Russia left the Grain Initiative, we resumed our contribution to global food security thanks to our soldiers who defeated Russia at sea. Already, 50 million tons of cargo have been exported through our new maritime corridor. But this was also made possible by diplomacy that supports Ukraine’s resilience in battles. Once again, diplomacy does work. 

Now, we are creating a new security architecture for Ukraine based on bilateral security agreements with our partners. There are already 15 such agreements, and more will come. These agreements are comprehensive, covering everything from defense cooperation to political and economic interaction. Diplomacy restores the world’s habit of keeping with the terms of agreements in real life.

Besides, we’ve proven that now diplomacy resolves issues that Europe has been unable to solve for decades. Specifically, we have secured real steps towards Ukraine’s integration with the EU – and Ukraine will definitely become an EU member, a part of one of the biggest global markets and security space. 

And the key point – peace. 

Our experience of restoring effective diplomacy has led us to the format of the Global Peace Summit. We are convinced that our world wants to be united and be capable of acting in complete harmony. We’ve realized that nations equally reject the idea of someone secretly making decisions and imposing them – what is needed is open and inclusive dialogue. We have confirmed that the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international conventions are entirely relevant. All this has become the basis of our Peace Formula and has grown into the Global Peace Summit – so every leader and country can show their commitment to peace. The global majority can ensure with their involvement – that what is agreed upon, is truly implemented, and so that Russia, who started this cruel war, cannot push us off the path to ending the war.

More than one hundred countries and international organizations have confirmed their participation in the Summit. For today. At the first Summit, we will address three points of the Peace Formula – nuclear security, food security, and the release of prisoners of war and, of course, the Ukrainian children abducted by Russia. Time is running out, and the children are growing up in a Putinland where they are taught to hate their homeland and are lied to, being told they have no families – while their loved ones wait for them at home in Ukraine. After the Peace Summit, when the global majority agrees on the common understandings and steps, the relevant parties will pass this to Russia, aiming for an outcome similar to The Grain Initiative. If these basic things are implemented, other points of the Peace Formula will work as well. 

Yes, we are disappointed that some world leaders have not yet confirmed their participation in the Peace Summit. Unfortunately, there are also attempts to disrupt the Summit. We do not want to believe that this is a desire for monopolistic power in the world – to deny the global community the opportunity to decide on war and peace and to leave this power in the hands of one or two. We respect the UN Charter, respect every nation, and treat everyone equally – only on this principle can the world be safeguarded from war. 

Ukraine proposes peace through diplomacy – an inclusive and fair format, Global Peace Summit. And I invite your region, your leaders, and countries to join. So that your peoples are involved in these global affairs and, by uniting against one war, we create for the world a real experience – the experience of overcoming any war, and of diplomacy that does work.

Thank you for the invitation! Thank you for your attention! 

Слава Україні!