25 Feb 2022

Ukraine Ambassador urges military support, more sanctions

6:02 pm on 25 February 2022

Ukraine's Ambassador is calling for the world to show its condemnation of Russia by imposing significant and co-ordinated sanctions, and offering military support.

Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv  on February 24, 2022.

Black smoke rises from a military airport in Chuguyev near Kharkiv. Photo: AFP

Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine yesterday in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

New Zealand says an unthinkable and catastrophic number of innocent lives could be lost and is calling on Russia to permanently withdraw from Ukraine.

It now has targeted travel and export bans in place, and has suspended any bilateral foreign ministry engagements for now.

In an online briefing, Ukraine Ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko, who also heads diplomatic relations with New Zealand appealed for further international support.

International bank sanctions would be critical, she said, and humanitarian assistance, but she urged further sanctions, isolating Russia in all possible international forums, and supporting Ukraine with weapons, protective equipment, fuel and whatever else was necessary to defend against the biggest army on the continent.

"Our military forces, our army, they are incredibly brave ... but you also realise that dealing with such a powerful enemy we need strong defensive support. Extending military support to Ukraine is critical now. We need more defensive weapons to be able to defend ourselves.

"This is a full-fledged war, a full scale invasion. It means that the losses are huge and very much hope that we will have enough strength, enough defensive weapons to be able to defend ourselves and that it will be enough for us to prevail."

She said Ukraine would defend itself against Russia as it had no other choice.

"We stay firm, committed, we will resist, we are on our territory. Ukraine is a peaceful nation ... no one wants war, however we need to protect ourselves and we will do so. There is no other choice."

"We do not have another choice. We have a powerful enemy on our territory - and with all means which we have we try to protect our own territorial integrity and our state sovereignty."

Ukraine had cut off diplomatic relations with Russia and was inviting partners to follow its example, she said.

"We deem it unacceptable to maintain diplomatic ties with the aggressor state which openly attacks its neighbour without any reason. We count upon the proper reaction by the international community.

"Now the masks have fallen, we see that Russia - which has repeatedly insisted it was no party to the conflict - is now to be the country it has always been and all Ukrainians are now provided with the opportunity to defend themselves, to defend their country and ultimately to defend their future.

"Under the shellings were children, women, elderly people and we see that instead of seeking ways to deescalate the situation Russia is putting more pressure on Ukraine, on Europe, on the entire world."

She said Russian troops were suffering losses - personnel as well as more than 30 tanks, up to 130 armoured combat vehicles, seven airplanes and six helicopters.

"The whole security architecture of the world is at stake. We need to stay vigilant and to act now."

She said Ukraine was very grateful for the support shown so far by New Zealand.

"We enjoy excellent relations with New Zealand ... we are really grateful and we appreciate all the signs of support."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs