SINGAPORE: Ukrainian Ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko on Friday (Feb 25) said she is grateful for the “strong support” from the Singaporean government, as she urged the international community to stand together against Russia.
“We urge the international community to show solidarity with Ukraine by imposing immediately massive coordinated sanctions against Russia,” she said in an online press briefing.
Her comments come a day after Russia invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday. At least 137 people were killed and 316 injured in Ukraine in the first day of fighting, with explosions heard in the capital Kyiv early Friday.
Ms Zelenko called for countries to follow Ukraine in cutting off diplomatic relations with Russia, and asked for all “necessary” support including weapons and protective equipment to counter the “biggest army in the continent”.
"If the world doesn't stop Russian aggression, the world will suffer," she said.
“Comprehensive bank sanctions in the very next few hours, including disengagement of Russian Federation from SWIFT will be critical,” said Ms Zelenko, referring to the global interbank payments system.
Sanctions already imposed by a number of countries in the world are appreciated as they will “severely undermine” Russia's economic and financial capacities to continuous its aggression, she said.
"We call on the international organisations to provide us with humanitarian assistance and register all cases of violation of the norms of international and international humanitarian law," she added.
SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE
Ms Zelenko said she was grateful for the support from Singapore, adding that the two countries are “on the same page” when it comes to protection of international law and rules-based order.
“We see lots of messages from Singaporeans which we get through email or just from people who we know supporting us, trying to choose ways how to assist Ukraine in this difficult situation,” she said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday released a statement condemning the "unprovoked invasion" and called for military actions to cease immediately.
"Singapore strongly condemns any unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country under any pretext," said an MFA spokesperson in a statement on Thursday.
"We reiterate that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected," the spokesperson added.
Ms Zelenko also said that Ukraine is working with many countries, including Singapore, to seek more humanitarian aid.
“We are now working with many countries across the globe, including Singapore in order to seek the ways to provide more humanitarian aid,” she said.
This is “crucial” at this critical juncture , Ms Zelenko said.
She also called on the Ukrainian community abroad to join in "delivering truth on Russia's war in Europe".
"Attack on Ukraine is an attack on the entire Europe. We need to act together and in a very coordinated manner," she said.
Giving more details on the current situation in Ukraine, Ms Zelenko said that Russia launched a simultaneous attack from the east, south and north on Thursday.
As of 10.30pm on Thursday, Russian troops had fired Ukraine's positions 393 times, including 32 civilian objects. Of the 137 people killed, 10 were officers, she said.
She showed photos to highlight two incidents - one in which a small boy was killed and his household members injured, and another where Russian naval forces approached Ukrainian soldiers on a “small but strategic island” asking them to surrender. The soldiers were killed, she added.
Since Thursday, the websites of Ukraine governmental institutions have suffered from cyber attacks, she said.
"In response, Ukraine has activated its right for self-defence according to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. We will defend our soil," she said.
FUTURE OF UKRAINE
“Thousands” of Ukrainian citizens have joined the ranks of territorial defence, with more to join in coming days, she said.
She added that authorities in Ukraine have estimated Russian losses on the first day of invasion to be more than 30 tanks, up to 130 armoured combat vehicles and seven airplanes and six helicopters.
Responding to a question on assault rifles that were given out to Ukrainian citizens, Ms Zelenko said that the country is providing them an opportunity to defend themselves, their country and "ultimately to defend their future".
"These defence capabilities include also the capacities to protect and defend their own families, their friends," she said.
While she said that Ukraine will resist, how long the country will be able to continue depends on the reaction of the its Western partners and their readiness to provide support to Ukraine and disengage Russia from SWIFT.
When asked if there is a possibility that Ukraine will defeat Russia, Ms Zelenko said it is a “difficult question”.
“The most important thing is that we do not have (any) other choice. We have a powerful enemy on our territory and with all means which we have, we try to protect our territorial integrity and our state sovereignty,” she said.