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Joly tells UN assembly Putin is losing grip on reality, a year after Ukraine invasion

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Russian President Vladimir Putin is losing his grip on reality, a year after his invasion of Ukraine.
Melanie Joly, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, speaks during a meeting on the "Gross Human Rights Violations Due To The Aggression Against Ukraine" in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at United Nations headquarters, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. Joly says Russian President Vladimir Putin is losing grip on reality, a year after his invasion of Ukraine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Minchillo

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Russian President Vladimir Putin is losing his grip on reality, a year after his invasion of Ukraine.

"As we mark this grim occasion, the Russian Federation’s further invasion and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine rages on," Joly told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

She was speaking in New York City on the eve of the anniversary of Russia's invasion, ahead of a vote by all UN member states on whether tocondemn Moscow and call on it to end the war.

Canada is among 38 countries that have put forward a resolution calling for peace and for Russia to be held accountable for the "dire human rights and humanitarian consequences" of the ongoing war.

The vote follows two similar votes that the General Assembly passed, although not unanimously.

Joly argued Russia isn't respecting the UN charter, and is abusing the veto it holdsas a permanent member of on the UN Security Council.

"Through its words and its actions, Russia is showing us very plainly that it does not respect this assembly and the members represented here," she told the assembly.

"It has peddled misinformation and conspiracy theories online, in our countries and in this chamber."

Joly said Russia must stop the conflict in orderto end the mounting suffering in nations across the world, as the cost of living rises and people seek refuge as a result of the war.

She also condemned Putin's national address Tuesday, in which he announced he was ending some of Russia's co-operation with the United States on nuclear safety. Putin has alsoargued Ukraine's democratically elected government is actually an illegitimate neo-Nazi regime.

Joly said it was "reckless" for Putin to leave the nuclear treaty, and said his speech amounted to "recycled absurdities" about the war.

"President Putin is entirely responsible for this war, and his latest address proves that he remains unmoored from this reality," Joly said.

Her speech comes at a time when developing countries have lamented feeling forced to choose sides between Russia's invasion and the West's opposition to it.

At last weekend's Munich Security Conference, countries like Colombia argued that the conflict is diverting funding and attention away from the climate crisis, while others such as Namibia saidthe focus should be on ending the violenceinstead of assigning blame.

Joly told her global peers Wednesday thatthe vote isn't about choosing sides in a broader geopolitical turf war.

"It is about choosing peace — a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine," she said.

"It is about choosing rules over chaos and clearly stating that no one, today and in the future, can disregard the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity."

At another event earlier Wednesday held by UN states that support Ukraine, Joly said Ottawa is preparing to tackle psychological and infrastructure needs in that country when the conflict ends.

"There's no option but victory for Ukraine. Canada will be there to support Ukraine's fight for freedom, for as long as it takes," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2023.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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