This morning the Russian Federation started massive missile strikes across Ukraine. Cruise missiles and ‘kamikaze’ drones launched from Russia and Belarus have targeted residential areas, power stations, railways, trade centers and bridges in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Rivne, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and other cities.
Following the morning attacks on Kyiv alone, at least 8 people have been killed and 24 injured. The overall death toll is rising as rescuers dig into the debris of destroyed infrastructure. Russia launched its terror campaign during the morning rush hour when people were coming to work and children were going to school. Russia’s aim was to cause the utmost death and destruction among civilians.
Deliberate targeting of critical civilian infrastructure is a war crime. Russia is striking power stations, which have no military purpose, to deprive the civilian population of its basic needs – heat, electricity and water – amid the onset of cold temperatures. Put all together, actions aimed at Ukrainians by Russia since 24 February and today’s attack amount to genocide.
Under such devastating circumstances, I took the decision to interrupt my Africa tour and return immediately to Ukraine. I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality provided to me in Africa.
Putin’s terror is directed not only against the people of Ukraine. It targets the fundamental principles of humanity, the right to live in peace, dignity and security – all of which is of the highest value to all African societies.
I call on all African nations to stand by international law, territorial integrity and peace. Russia’s deliberate attacks on civilians in Ukraine and destruction of critical civilian infrastructure must be condemned resolutely.
I urge Africa not to stay neutral. Neutrality will only encourage Russia to continue its aggression and malign activities across the world, including in Africa. Moscow must hear your message that this war is unacceptable and must stop. This week there will be a vote at the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution condemning Russia’s aggression and its unlawful attempts to annex Ukraine’s territories. Ukraine counts on your valuable support for this important document.
Peace in Ukraine and the world can only be won together. And Africa’s support is needed now more than ever.