Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would make New Zealand's position clear if Russians confronted her at United Nations

  • 23/09/2022

The Prime Minister says there would be no pleasantries with members of the Russian delegation to the United Nations (UN) if they decided to confront her.

Jacinda Ardern is at the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting this week. It sees world leaders flock annually to New York to give addresses on the state of global affairs and have formal sitdowns with each other.

This year's event has been dominated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the likes of US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Liz Truss using their addresses to take aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin isn't in attendance at the UN, but his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is there with a delegation of Russian officials. But with most countries united behind Ukraine, Russia is increasingly isolated. 

Ardern was asked on Friday what she would do if a member of the Russian team came over to her on the United Nations floor.

"If the occasion ever arose, I would share directly exactly what I'm saying to you now; that their war is illegal, that it is immoral, that it is taking the lives of civilians, Russia needs to hear that from every corner of the international community."

She said there would be no pleasantries with the Russian officials. 

"Straight into it," Ardern said. 

Following Putin's announcement this week of a mobilisation and his threat of using nuclear weapons, Ardern reiterated New Zealand's condemnation of Russia

"To claim that they would use and could use any other additional weapons that are available to them flies in the face of the lie they have told that they are there to liberate others, and yet they would use the threat of such weapons against them. This, for me, highlights just the falsehood around this war."

New Zealand has consistently condemned Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. The Government passed new legislation allowing it to sanction individuals and businesses connected to the war, and has also offered up humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Sarah Walsh, New Zealand's Ambassador to Russia, this week presented her credentials to the Russian President. At the same time, New Zealand sent a formal message to Russia reminding it of our "position regarding Russia's illegal, unprovoked and unjustified attack". 

There are a number of meetings happening on the sideline of the main UNGA event. That includes a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday morning. Lavrov was nearly 90 minutes late to the meeting, made a number of accusations of Ukraine and the West, and then walked out. Russia has been using its veto power to stop Security Council resolutions to assist Ukraine.