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Unified support for Ukraine is as vital as ever

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Photo: Tlhabi Monnakgotla
Gro Harlem Brundtland considers the importance of global solidarity and unity in support of Ukraine, one year after President Putin launched his full-scale invasion.

Adapted from The Elders' monthly newsletter. Sign up for regular email updates from The Elders.


Dear friends,

On 24 February, the world marked the first anniversary of President Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The Elders added their voice to those denouncing Russia’s continued illegal aggression by calling for international condemnation of Putin’s latest actions to heighten nuclear threats.

The Elders have consistently condemned Russia’s aggression as a violation of the UN Charter which risks destabilising the entire rules-based international order. The world needs to stand in solidarity with Ukraine, not only to support its sovereignty and territorial integrity, but to send a clear signal to other dictators that such acts of aggression will not be tolerated by the international community.

This was the message that Elders conveyed at the Munich Security Conference last month. Juan Manuel Santos, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and I spoke with Foreign Ministers, senior officials and civil society members to condemn Russia’s aggression, to highlight the importance of upholding the UN Charter and to discuss the international support needed to achieve accountability for those who commit war crimes.

We also urged greater recognition of the impact and challenges conflict in Ukraine poses for countries in the Global South. This includes perceptions that the West operates “double standards” in some contexts, for example regarding Israel’s violations of international law in its occupation of Palestinian territories. Juan Manuel Santos explored these points further in an interview with the New York Times whilst at Munich.

Writing for Project Syndicate, Ban Ki-moon and Juan Manuel Santos, who both visited Ukraine last year, affirmed that unity in support of Ukraine is crucial for upholding the broader rules-based global order. Elbegdorj Tsakhia also called for unity across Asia in support of Ukraine in op-eds for the South China Morning Post and The Diplomat.

President Putin’s decision on 23 February to suspend Russia’s participation in New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) underscores why global solidarity is so necessary.

This latest dangerous action increases the existential threat of nuclear catastrophe for humanity and risks the safety and security of all nations. It also raises the alarming prospect of a world without any constraints on the arsenals of the two nuclear superpowers – Russia and the United States – for the first time since 1972.

On the anniversary of the invasion The Elders issued a statement calling on all UN member states to condemn President Putin’s latest efforts to escalate his illegal war on Ukraine, and to urge Russia and the United States to return to dialogue to manage the risks of nuclear weapons.

As the fight for a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine continues, we must not forget the essential role women play as peace-builders in conflicts all across the world. As we mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, The Elders will be launching a new digital hub to highlight and support the voices of women working on the frontlines of peace-building in their communities and countries. More information is available on our website.

With thanks for your ongoing support,

Gro Harlem Brundtland

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