Address by Andriy Yermak to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council
“Your Highness, Your Excellencies.
Thank you for joining us today for this conversation.
For more than 3 months, our country has withstood brutal and unprovoked Russian aggression. The world sees the Russian occupiers massacring our people, torturing and raping men, women and even children. They are destroying our cities and infrastructure. They are forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of our people to Russia, including children. They just steal. The Russian army is behaving like a gang of looters.
But the Ukrainian people repel the aggressor decently. We are determined to defeat and drive the occupiers out of our land. And we will do it. Gradually, arduously, but relentlessly.
Law and justice are on our side. This is clearly evidenced by the resolution of the UN General Assembly adopted on March 2 this year, which calls on Russia to immediately stop the illegal use of force against Ukraine and withdraw all its troops. We are extremely grateful to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries for supporting this resolution.
Russia has not simply violated all major international norms. Representatives of the Russian leadership have repeatedly denied Ukraine’s right to exist independently. Therefore, this is not just another imperialist war. This is an attempt to destroy the Ukrainian identity, to erase Ukrainians from the book of history. Russia is fully responsible for violating the Genocide Convention, which it has pledged to abide by. The Russians are trying to destroy the Ukrainians and conquer our country. But this is only one of their goals. Russia is building an empire. Syria and Libya have already felt its friendship.
The Russian war in Ukraine already affects the whole world. The food crisis caused by the blockade of Ukrainian ports will directly affect the population of Arab countries with dangerous unpredictable consequences.
Ukraine and your countries have long been reliable partners and friends. Nothing will change that. Our ties will be strengthened as the crisis not only brings challenges but also opens up new opportunities.
We greatly appreciate the help that your countries already provide. This is really important for us. We ask you to take further action to help us punish the aggressor and end this war. Evil must be stopped in time until it burns the whole world out.
Minister Kuleba will tell the details. And I will outline some key points that need maximum attention.
1. First. The application of international economic sanctions is absolutely necessary. Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is blocking all legally binding decisions, despite the unanimous international condemnation of its illegal invasion. Economic pressure must deprive Russia of the financial, technical and technological resources to wage this war, as well as subsequent aggressive wars.
I personally coordinate the work of the Yermak-McFaul international expert group aimed at strengthening sanctions against Russia. The goals of our Sanctions Action Plan include a total ban on Russian energy exports, the expansion of sanctions against the financial sectors of Russia and Belarus, the strengthening of transport and insurance sanctions, the expansion and strengthening of trade embargoes and personal sanctions. We call on the Gulf Cooperation Council to join the sanctions regime against the Russian Federation and in no way assist Russia and certain members of its authorities in avoiding existing restrictions.
2. Second. We hope that the Gulf states will play an active role in resolving the current global food and energy crisis, which Russia is using as instruments of war and pressure on the international community. It is time for decisive action and confident steps. Yesterday, the EU agreed on a sixth sanctions “oil” package against Russia. This is an opportunity for the Gulf countries, for the benefit of themselves, to help the West overcome its energy dependence on Russia. Ukraine is also interested in long-term and effective solutions in this area.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer you a number of initiatives aimed at comprehensively deepening our mutual understanding and developing cooperation.
First of all, I would like to propose the establishment of a special Advisory Council under the auspices of the Head of the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for your region. I would be happy to see foreign ministers as well as people with powers similar to mine there. This council could be a useful platform for discussing pressing issues such as grain supplies and energy security. But not only. I think it would be appropriate to use this forum to address issues that affect the interests of the GCC and their allies.
To this end, within a week or two, we could agree on a special representative to discuss organizational issues, including the Council’s mandate, and set up a secretariat. Together, we can find ways to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe that can be caused by the food crisis. It bears reminding that a number of Islamic countries in Africa and South Asia are already at risk.
I would like to pay special attention to the issue of information exchange. Ukraine wants to become more open and understandable to the Arab world. Therefore, we are ready to facilitate the opening of offices of Arab state television companies in our country. We will provide them with an adequate level of security.
In our opinion, Europe is too self-centered, so Ukraine offers the Arab world to work together to expand its horizons. In particular, through the tools of soft power provided by television.
The next offer is to some extent a continuation of the previous one. Crisis and war are always an opportunity to show humanism. You know, Ukraine is a multi-religious and religiously tolerant country. We consider that the Red Crescent should be represented in it at the same level as the Red Cross, we believe it is fair.
Another proposal concerns finance. Ukraine is preparing to launch the National Sovereign Fund. The agricultural industry and land banks should become its leading assets. We offer your sovereign national investment funds cooperation in this and other areas.
3. I will move on to the third point. Together with former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, I am chairing an international advisory group that will make proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine.
These guarantees will include expanding Ukraine’s defense potential with modern weapons and military equipment, exchanging intelligence and information, financial assistance to Ukraine, and preventive sanctions in the event of a real threat of new aggression.
It is also about Ukraine’s political and diplomatic support, including Ukraine’s deep involvement in multilateral formats that will improve its integration with the international community.
We invite leading figures in security, politics and diplomacy from your countries to join this group.
The criminal aggression of a permanent member of the UN Security Council has shown that the world needs a radical update of the international security system. President Zelenskyy’s idea is to start building the foundations for a new world order based on the system of security guarantees for Ukraine. I am convinced that the Arab world should play a leading role in this process.
4. Fourth. Thanks to the unwavering determination of the Ukrainian nation, military prowess and assistance from friendly countries, Ukraine will definitely win. It will become a regional leader in Eastern Europe. Russia has one prospect – a gradual decline. Ukraine, on the contrary, will develop rapidly. Please think about your own economic interests. After our victory, Ukraine will become the world’s largest construction site. And we invite you to join this process. I am confident that we will not just continue our joint projects, but expand our cooperation as much as possible. Including in the field of agriculture, transport, tourism, defense, IT.
Today, we call on the Gulf states to provide us with financial assistance to strengthen our resilience. And immediately after the war – we offer you to take part in the reconstruction of our country. We invite you to join large-scale infrastructure, transport and humanitarian projects that will affect the future of the entire continent. We know that the leadership of your countries demonstrates wisdom and focus on strategic perspectives.
So be with Ukraine! Join our common future!
Thank you! Glory to Ukraine!“