New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday said the Russia-Ukraine war is not a war between democracy and autocracy or the West against Moscow.
Speaking on foreign policy at the Australian think tank the Lowy Institute in Sydney, she said the Ukraine war is "unquestionably illegal" and "unjustifiable," and that Russia must be held to account.
"We must remember that fundamentally this is Russia’s war. And while there are those who have shown overt and direct support, such as Belarus, who must also see consequences for their role, let us not otherwise characterise this as a war of the west vs Russia. Or democracy vs autocracy," said Ardern, according to a transcript issued from her office.
In May, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the war between Ukraine and Russia is about democracy versus a dictatorship, and noted that democracy must prevail.
Later, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned that the Ukraine war should not be labeled as a conflict of democracy versus theocracy.
"Let's not assume that China as a member of the (UN) Security Council does not have a role to play in placing pressure and response to what is a loss of territorial integrity at the hands of Russia," state-run Radio New Zealand quoted Ardern as telling reporters.
"Let's not just isolate them and assume that it's only democracies that take this view."
Ardern vowed that her country would stand with Ukraine and will intervene as a third party in Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice.
She arrived in Australia to attend the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum and will also meet with her counterpart, Anthony Albanese.
Pacific nations should be free from coercion
On her country's relations with Pacific nations, Ardern said several countries, including China, the US, France, Japan, and the UK have had roles in the Pacific region for years and it would be wrong to characterize this engagement, including that of China, as new.
"It would also be wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to ‘pick sides.’ These are democratic nations with their own sovereign right to determine their foreign policy engagements," she added.
Recently, China and the Solomon Islands signed a bilateral security deal in April, which triggered a chain reaction from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the US.
"We can be country neutral in approach, but have a Pacific bias on the values we apply for these engagements, but priorities should be set by the Pacific."
"They should be free from coercion," she added.