Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong used a speech at the United Nations General Assembly to urge China to use its influence on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.
Senator Wong condemned Russia’s invasion of a neighboring country as “illegal, immoral” and said that the invasion of Ukraine could neither be normalized nor minimized.
“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an attack on all smaller countries,” she said at the assembly in New York on Saturday.
“Therefore, it is especially important for countries that play leading roles in international forums and countries that have influence over Russia to exert their influence to stop this war.
“In this, the world relies on China, a great power, a permanent member of the Security Council with a boundless partnership with Russia.”
Senator Wong’s comments came a day after she and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the assembly spoke about Beijing not condemning Russia’s actions.
Penny Wong criticizes Russia’s use of the UN veto
Senator Wong also condemned – without naming Russia directly – its use of the UN Security Council veto to allow “uncontrolled abuse of the UN Charter”.
“The death and destruction in Ukraine reminds us all how much we stand to lose if we fail to protect the UN Charter,” she said.
“…We cannot be passive when big powers break the rules.”
Senator Wong said Australia would also push for the UN Security Council to make room for other “small and medium-sized” countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The Council currently consists of five permanent veto-wielding members – China, Russia, France, the UK and the US – and 10 non-permanent members, five of whom are elected each year by the General Assembly for a two-year term.
Australia is also vying for a two-year seat on the council from 2029 to 2030.
War near Australia would be ‘disastrous’
She said the conflict in Ukraine served as a warning about the risk and cost of potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.
“It would be disastrous for our people and our well-being,” she said.
“With the Indo-Pacific region central to global prosperity and security, the cost will reach far beyond our region and touch every life.”
She announced $374 million in development aid for Southeast Asian countries, adding that a strategy was being developed to improve economic engagement between Australia and countries in the region.
“Australia is committed to deeper engagement with Southeast Asia. It’s a region I know well. It’s a region I’m from,” said Ms Wong, a native of Malaysia who is Australia’s first overseas foreign minister. origin.
“Part of the Pacific Family”
Ms Wong said Australia was committed to acting on climate change and building closer ties with Pacific Island countries.
She said foreign aid to the Pacific region had been increased by more than half a billion dollars and that Australia was committed to implementing the 2050 strategy developed by Pacific nations.
She also spoke about her visits to six Pacific Islands Forum countries in just six months of work.
“It’s a clear indication of our priorities that by the end of this year I will have visited almost all of them,” she said.
Minister Wong also announced a doubling of funding for foreign aid to Palestine refugees by doubling aid to $20 million this fiscal year for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr welcomed the announcement.
Senator Wong also attended a meeting of foreign ministers of the Quad countries, including the US, Australia, India and Japan.
Ministers signed the Quad guidelines – announced in May – on humanitarian aid and disaster relief.