Jacinda Ardern condemned the “extraordinary escalation” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir Putin. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has strongly condemned Russia’s recent escalation in the Ukraine war, including the threat of nuclear weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation of military reservists – the defence secretary said 300,000 people would be mobilised – and made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons.
Offering no evidence, Putin accused officials in NATO states of threatening to use nuclear weapons against Russia. They should know that “the weathervane can turn towards them”, he said, adding that Russia “also has various means of destruction”. “When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff.”
Ardern said New Zealand already condemned the “illegal invasion” and stood “firmly against the escalation of this invasion”.
The threat of the use of nuclear weapons highlighted the falsehood of the war, she said.
“[It] flies in the face of the lie that they have told that they are there to liberate others and yet they would use the threat of such weapons against them.
“What we need here is a rallying cry from the world, what is happening in Ukraine is illegal, it’s immoral, it’s causing the loss of civilian life and that loss could extend if as Putin has claimed he broadens the types of weapons he uses in this war.”
She said the Ukrainian conflict was an example of why New Zealand wanted the world rid of nuclear weapons saying “we are all unsafe so long as these weapons exist”.
Speaking at the UN earlier, US President Joe Biden accused Russia of making “reckless” and “irresponsible” threats to use nuclear weapons and said Moscow had violated the core tenets of United Nations membership by invading Ukraine.
Jacinda Ardern meets Ukraine PM Denys Shmyhal in New York on 21 September 2022. Photo: Supplied / Pool
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later held official talks with Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal.
The sit-down followed a more informal meeting yesterday at a food security event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In brief remarks ahead of their meeting, Ardern passed on the condolences of New Zealanders for the war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
“New Zealand will continue to work alongside you,” Ardern said.
Shmyhal recalled his first meeting with Ardern online in the early days of the conflict and said he was “deeply grateful” for New Zealand’s support.
“I hope that we will meet next time in a free, liberated Ukraine – a peaceful Ukraine without war.”
The meeting was kept secret due to security concerns and comes at a particularly tense time in geopolitical relations.
Speaking before the sit-down, Ardern told reporters she would seek Shmyhal’s perspective on Putin’s latest actions.
New Zealand troops, based in the UK, are training Ukrainian recruits and military equipment has also been donated.
Ardern said she had not been asked to provide further support.
“I have not had anyone close to the conflict express anything other than gratitude for the scale of New Zealand’s contribution.”
– with additional reporting from Reuters
Copyright © 2022, Radio New Zealand
US President Joe Biden accused Russia of making “reckless” and “irresponsible” threats to use nuclear weapons and said Moscow had violated the core tenets of United Nations membership by invading…
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a partial military mobilisation, as Russian forces battle a Ukrainian counter-offensive that has regained some occupied territory.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc and its member states would not recognise the outcome of the referendums and would consider further measures against Russia if they went ahead.
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