Speed Reads

"It’s the nature of peace that matters"

U.S. warns against 'new normal' as world leaders react on anniversary of Ukraine invasion

Speaking at the United Nations on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned against accepting Russian "atrocities" committed during its invasion of Ukraine and allowing them to become "our new normal." As he told the assembled diplomats, "it's easy to become numb to the horror, to lose our ability to feel shock and outrage."

Blinken's remarks, delivered on the one-year anniversary of Russia's ongoing Ukrainian invasion, echoed similar sentiments from many other world leaders, who marked the occasion with declarations of both solidarity with Ukraine, and condemnation of Russia's continued aggression. 

In a lengthy joint statement from the Group of 7 (G7) political consortium, leaders from the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom decried Russia's invasion as "an attack on the fundamental principles of sovereignty of nations, territorial integrity of states and respect for human rights." while promising the group's "solidarity will never waver in standing with Ukraine, in supporting countries and people in need, and in upholding the international order based on the rule of law."

Monuments across the globe also marked Friday's anniversary by lighting up in the colors of Ukraine's flag:

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace set a strident tone in his statement — shared in Russian by the country's Moscow embassy — predicting "dishonor and defeat" for Russia if it continues its invasion of Ukraine. 

Polish President Andrzej Duda marked the occasion by swearing "no return to business as usual with Russia! " while lauding his citizens for opening their homes to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the violence. "There were and there are no refugee camps in Poland," Duda exclaimed. "We welcomed and continue to welcome our guests in our homes."

China, seen by some as a potential backer of Russian military efforts in Ukraine, has spent the lead-up to Friday's anniversary attempting to position itself as a neutral arbitrator poised to negotiate a settlement between the two countries; it has proposed a 12-point plan to end hostilities between Russia and Ukraine that includes calls for a cease-fire, and the repeal of sanctions against Russia established in response to its invasion. In his remarks to the UN, Blinken seemingly dismissed the plan, noting that "many countries will call for peace today," but "history teaches us that it's the nature of peace that matters."

Speaking during an extensive news conference, however, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seemed more open to Chinese involvement in the region, explaining that "the fact that China started talking about Ukraine is not bad." Earlier in the day, Zelensky heralded the Ukrainian troops for their efforts in repelling Russia's attacks. "It is you who will decide whether we are all going to exist. Whether Ukraine is going to exist," he told them. "Every day. Every hour. It is you, Ukrainian soldiers, which will decide it."