Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Russia is behaving as a rogue state, in clear violation of the United Nations charter.
Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday evening, the Taoiseach said Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine carried dark echoes of Europe’s past.
“We face an expansionist power, brutally invading and occupying a peaceful neighbour,” Mr Martin said.
He said Russia’s aggression was not merely a European issue, or a concern only for the West.
“All states, and particularly small countries such as my own, should fear a world where might equals right, where the strong can bully the weak; where sovereignty and territorial integrity can be blatantly violated; and where the UN charter – the charter that all of us in this Assembly have faithfully put our trust in – can be flouted with impunity.”
Recalling his own visit to Ukraine in July, Mr Martin said he had heard first-hand accounts from civilians of the brutality and violence visited upon men, women and children by occupying Russian forces.
“We have seen the targeting of nuclear facilities and of civilian infrastructure,” the Taoiseach said.
“And now we see President Putin plan sham referenda in eastern Ukraine, aimed at forcibly changing Ukraine’s borders, in clear violation of the UN Charter.
“We have to name what we are seeing. These actions, taken collectively, show Russia behaving as a rogue state.”
Mr Martin said the impact of Russia’s aggression had reached far beyond Ukrainian or European shores and borders.
“From the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, and beyond, food insecurity has reached a critical tipping point.
“Some of the countries which have been worst affected by the current food insecurity crisis are those most reliant on imports of wheat from Russia and Ukraine,” Mr Martin said.
“Combined with the impact of climate change, and of conflict, severe drought and other extreme weather events, we face a crisis that needs urgent action.”
Mr Martin was also critical of Russia for vetoing at the UN Security Council a resolution Ireland had drafted with Niger on the impact of climate change upon global security.
“One hundred and thirteen countries – one hundred and thirteen of the members of this assembly – supported us in our efforts,” Mr Martin said.
“One country - Russia - vetoed these efforts.
“It frankly beggars belief that, in 2022, the UN body charged with the maintenance of peace and security, has still not taken on its responsibilities in this area. It is a singular failure of political will and political responsibility.”
The Taoiseach noted that this year marked Ireland’s centenary as an independent, sovereign nation, and he said that one of our first acts as a nation was to look outward, applying to join the League of Nations.
He said the same principles which had motivated Ireland to join the League of Nations inspired Ireland’s foreign policy a century later.
“The belief that all countries have an equal right to live in peace. That all countries, no matter how small, have a contribution to make to international peace and security, and to economic and social development.
“That all people have the right to live in dignity; to have their human rights and fundamental freedoms respected,” the Taoiseach said.
“One hundred years on, we, as a global community, are very far from living up to these principles.”