Russian official ‘apologises’ for invasion

Published February 28, 2022
MOSCOW: Police officers detain a man during a protest against Russia’s invasion.—AFP
MOSCOW: Police officers detain a man during a protest against Russia’s invasion.—AFP

PARIS: The Russian head of delegation at a major UN climate conference expressed regrets for his country’s invasion of Ukraine on Sunday, which he said lacked justification, according to several sources who heard him speak at the virtual meeting.

The surprise intervention from Russia’s Oleg Anisimov at the closed-door meeting followed an electrifying live statement from his Ukrainian counterpart, Svitlana Krakovska, who spoke passionately about her country’s plight.

“Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict,” Anisimov said at the closing plenary of the virtual, 195-nation forum, according to three sources.

Delegates and observers to the sometimes fraught meetings, which had been scheduled to end on Friday, were stunned by the back-to-back statements on Sunday, according to half-a-dozen participants.

Those who see what is happening, the Russian official added in Russian, “fail to find any justification for the attack on Ukraine”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provided simultaneous translation of his comments into English. AFP did not have access to the original statement in Russian.

Ukraine’s Krakovska, who has tried to continue working despite the assault on her country, addressed the conference on Sunday morning. “We will not surrender in Ukraine, and we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate resilient future,” she said in English, according to multiple sources.

“Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels — and our dependence on them,” she added.

The statement by Anisimov — who expressed “huge admiration” for the Ukrainian delegation — came as great surprise.

“He knows that there is a risk for him, it was a very sincere message,” said a participant.

When asked to comment, Anisimov said that his statements “expressed my personal opinion and attitude”, and should not be taken as an “official statement of the Russian delegation”.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2022

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