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The Right Response to Russian Aggression

How the world responds to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine will have far-reaching implications for global peace and cooperation well into the future. Whatever the eventual negotiated outcome, the peace must be just and it must uphold the core principles of the international order.

HELSINKI – In October 2022, a large majority of United Nations member states voted in support of a resolution condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its illegal attempts to annex Ukrainian territory. Now, the international community must increase the pressure on the Kremlin by helping Ukraine maintain an effective defense capacity and tightening sanctions (including by closing current loopholes).

Finland’s own support for Ukraine rests on the principle enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognizes an “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” Not only does Ukraine have a right to defend itself, but Finland and other UN members have a right to assist Ukraine in its efforts.

While Russia has paralyzed the Security Council with its veto, the broader UN nonetheless has demonstrated its ability to act, with the General Assembly taking center stage and condemning Russian aggression through numerous resolutions. UN agencies have delivered humanitarian aid to victims on the ground and stepped in to unlock shipments of grain and fertilizer through the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Similarly, the International Atomic Energy Agency is talking to both sides in its efforts to maintain nuclear safety. All these negotiation tracks, along with successful prisoner-exchange agreements, offer glimmers of hope for international diplomacy.

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