World's 'future rules' being decided on Ukraine battlefields, says Zelenskyy in virtual Singapore speech
SINGAPORE: The future rules of the world are being decided on the battlefields of Ukraine, its President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday (Jun 11), warning that the Russian invasion has global implications for peace moving forward.
"Please remember that this support and this attention is not only for Ukraine but for you as well, to ensure that our and your future is safe," he said during a special virtual address on the second day of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
"It is on the battlefield in Ukraine that the future rules of this world are being decided along with the boundaries of the possible.
"So, let us save the whole world from coming back to the times when everything was decided based on the so-called right of might, and when certain people and their ideas and many nations were of no consequence."
Mr Zelenskyy was speaking through an interpreter from a secret location in Kyiv as the war enters its fourth month. He had said on Tuesday that Ukraine will fight to recover all its territory occupied by Russian forces, adding that a stalemate was "not an option".
Addressing more than 500 delegates from 40 countries on Saturday, Mr Zelenskyy said the war does not only concern Europe but also involves "globally important things".
"Russian leadership strives to discard all the achievements of the historical development of humankind, particularly the system of international law, which we have today," he said.
"And it wants to come back to life of the 19th century or even before that, when it was impossible to ensure the harmonious development and well-being for billions of people."
Mr Zelenskyy quoted former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew when he said that without international law, "the big fish ate a small fish, and the small fish ate shrimps, (so) we would not have existed".
"These are wise words of Lee Kuan Yew, the leader who was perspicacious enough to see the clear reasons of many things in processes, and who knew exactly what is of value," he said.
Beyond geopolitics, Mr Zelenskyy warned of the war's impact on food security, saying that Russian blockades have prevented Ukraine from exporting "foodstuffs which are so sorely missing in global markets".
"The world will face an acute and severe food crisis and famine in many countries of Asia and Africa," he added.
The war has contributed to rising fuel prices and led to supply chain shocks around the world, as countries grapple with inflationary pressures.
"The shortage of foodstuffs will inexorably lead to political chaos, which can result in the falling of many governments and the ousting of any politicians," Mr Zelenskky said.
"This looming threat is plain to see by just looking at the skyrocketing prices for basic products in the world markets and in certain countries. This is the direct consequence of the acts of the Russian state."
Mr Zelenskyy also took a shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin by highlighting his own outfit: A black T-shirt printed with a Ukrainian flag graphic that he wore at the request of a "girl in Singapore". This was part of her initiative to support Ukraine, he said.
"I thought to myself: This is a request from this, her idea, her confidence that the president of Ukraine will really respond to her initiative, and that I will be willing to help is of crucial importance. And I am wearing this shirt today," he said.
"Can you imagine, for instance, the president of Russia responding to such an initiative? Would he respond to this initiative? Would he just read the letter coming from the embassy in Singapore proposing to support the idea of a girl whom he doesn't know? Would he wear the shirt? I think that this is impossible.
"This is the confrontation between the possible, which we and many people in the world need, and the impossible for which Russia is so desperately fighting for."