At the beginning of his comments, Zelensky said defeating Russian aggression is bigger than just for Ukraine's sovereignty due to the Russian forces' targeting of grains, which has raised food prices globally, as well as their "weaponization of energy," as he described their attempts to block gas and oil supply to European countries.
"It's clear, Russia's attempt to weaponize the food shortage on the global market in exchange for recognition for some, if not all, of the captured territories," Zelensky said. "Russia is launching the food prices as weapons. Their impact spans from the Atlantic Coast of Africa to the Southeast Asia."
Russia withdrew from the grain deal in July that had been brokered by the U.N. and Turkey in July 2022, and their forces have since targeted Ukraine's export infrastructure and thousands of tons of Ukraine's grain exports itself.
The "Kremlin weaponized oil and gas to weaken the leaders of other countries," he said, adding that "now, now, this threat is even greater."
Zelensky also referenced Russian aggression toward Moldova, Georgia, and Syria to prove why Russia's war in Ukraine could lead to larger consequences for other countries.
"Each decade, Russia starts a new war. Parts of Moldova and Georgia remain occupied. Russia turned Syria into ruins. And if not Russia, the chemical weapons would have never been used there in Syria. Russia has almost swallowed Belarus. It is obviously threatening Kazakhstan and other Baltic States. And the goal of the present war against Ukraine is to tear our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order. Many seats in the General Assembly hall may become empty, empty if Russia succeeds with its treachery and aggression."
Ukrainian forces have made limited gains in recent weeks as their counteroffensive has struggled to come through with significant victories. To date, Ukraine has liberated slightly more than half of its territory that was occupied by Russia, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters earlier on Tuesday.
"Each Ukrainian advancement, every inch of reclaimed territory only happens because of the bravery, the honor, and the incredible sacrifice made by the Ukrainian people in their military," he said in Germany alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. "Ukraine continues to make deliberate, steady progress in liberating their homeland from Russian occupation. To date, Ukraine has liberated over 54% of Russian-occupied Ukraine, and they continue to retain the strategic initiative."
Austin and Milley led the latest iteration of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Defense leaders from roughly 50 countries were in attendance at this month's meeting, which was the first since Rustem Umerov took over as Ukraine's minister of defense following the removal of former Minister Oleksii Reznikov.