Varadkar criticises Russia over ending Black Sea grain export deal

Taoiseach condemns war in Ukraine as an ‘imperialist and brutal invasion’, in speech to United Nations in New York on Friday

If Russian leader Vladimir Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, he will keep on going, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking in advance of delivering Ireland’s formal annual statement to the United Nations in New York, he said Ireland wanted to see global solidarity with Ukraine in the face of the invasion by Russia.

“This is about right and wrong. This is 2023 and no country should try to change borders by force and no country should try to bring down a democratic government by military means or by supporting a military coup. There cannot be equivocation on this.”

In his formal address to the UN on Friday, Mr Vararkar condemned the war in Ukraine as an “imperialist and brutal invasion” and also hit out at Russia over ending the Black Sea grain export deal and over threats to use nuclear weapons.


“It was an act of unprovoked and unjustified aggression by an expansionist, revanchist power against its neighbour.

“The brutality of Russia’s actions in Ukraine has caused unfathomable suffering for the people of that country.”

The Taoiseach said each country in the UN had a “deep interest in ensuring that Russia did not succeed in its attempt to move borders by force – and that this was not just a European problem.

“For when one aggressor prevails, their peers elsewhere take note and are emboldened. We know this from history.

“When Europeans draw attention to the profound injustice of what is happening in Ukraine, there can be criticism, some of it justified, of the developed world’s failure to respond with the same intensity of feeling and action to conflict and suffering elsewhere.

“But, while we can acknowledge that we have fallen short, the people of Ukraine should not be the ones asked to pay the price.

“They have done nothing to bring down this war on their heads.”

Mr Varadkar also criticised Russia for collapsing the deal to export Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, saying it would have implications for global food security.

He also said that threats by Russia to use nuclear weapons as part of its war in Ukraine were “outrageous”.

“Russia knows, as we all do, that their use would result in devastating humanitarian and environmental disaster.”

The Taoiseach also backed “the only just solution” to the Israelis-Palestinian conflict. He said this involved “a two-State solution, with a viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, living in peace and security alongside the State of Israel, whose right to exist should be accepted and respected by all its neighbours”.

The Taoiseach also called for the abandonment of the system of vetoes by permanent members of the UN security council as part of overall reforms.

“During Ireland’s recent term on the Security Council, we saw first-hand the positive effect that its work can have. But we also saw its efforts stymied, its mandate undermined; crucial decisions and actions blocked by the use of the veto.

“Our future requires a UN with a reformed Security Council – without the anachronism of the veto. It has no place in the 21st century. We also need a UN Security Council that properly reflects the world’s demography and politics as it is now not in the 1940s.”

He also fully backed the implementation of the programme of sustainable development goals which aim, for example, to eradicate extreme poverty.

“It is beyond time for us to demonstrate that the sustainable development goals are more than a set of aspirations.”

“It is time for all of us – to turn our collective commitments into reality.”

He said 80 per cent of Ireland’s domestic sustainable development goals had been fully achieved.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall in New York

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent