Ukraine’s president challenges UN Security Council to act or ‘dissolve’ itself
Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Tuesday, challenged the UN Security Council to either remove the Russian Federation as a source of war so it can no longer block decisions made about its own aggression, or simply “dissolve yourselves altogether” if there is nothing to do other than engage in conversation.
He asked, “Are you ready to close the United Nations? Do you think that the time for international law is gone?”
Zelensky described in stark detail what he said was the deliberate slaughter of civilians in Bucha by Russian forces, laying out an existential choice for its members, over the whole future of the world’s security architecture, founded in 1945.
“We are dealing with a State that is turning the veto of the United Nations Security Council into the right to die”, President Zelynskyy warned.
He said if the onslaught continues, countries will rely not on international law or global institutions to ensure security, but rather, on the power of their own arms.
Noting that he had just returned from Bucha, the newly liberated suburb of Kyiv that has become notorious since images of mass civilian deaths there emerged at the weekend, he recounted how Russian forces had sought and purposely killed anyone who served Ukraine.
He said he was addressing the Council in honour of the deceased: those shot in the head after being tortured, thrown into wells, crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars, and those whose limbs were cut off and tongues pulled out because the aggressors “did not hear what they wanted to hear”.
Tactics used by terrorists
He accused Russia of wanting to “turn Ukrainians into silent slaves” and openly stealing everything, “starting with food and ending with gold earrings that are pulled out and covered with blood”.
These tactics, he said, are no different than those used by terrorist group Da’esh – except that they are now being perpetrated by a permanent member of the Security Council. “Where is the security that the Security Council must guarantee?” he implored.
‘The power of peace must dominate’
Recalling that Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann did not go unpunished, the Ukrainian president said it was time for reform. “The power of peace must become dominant”.
He challenged the Council to either remove the Russian Federation as a source of war so it can no longer block decisions made about its own aggression, or simply “dissolve yourselves altogether” if there is nothing to do other than engage in conversation. “Are you ready to close the United Nations? Do you think that the time for international law is gone?” he asked.
“Ukraine needs peace. Europe needs peace. The world needs peace,” he insisted.
Bolstering that plea in an earlier briefing to the Council, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, expressed deep regret over divisions that have prevented the Council from acting not only on Ukraine – but on other threats to peace around the world. He urged the Organization’s flagship security body to do “everything in its power” to end the war.
Lives stuffed into backpacks
In the ensuing debate, United States Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that behind the images of bombed out buildings, many people had “stuffed their lives into backpacks” and left the only home they had ever known.
She gave her own account of the refugee crisis in parts of Europe, having returned on 4 April from the Republic of Moldova and Romania.
Based on available information, she said the United States has assessed that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine. The United States is seeking suspension of the Russian Federation from the Human Rights Council, as Moscow uses its membership as a platform for its propaganda, she said.
Russia’s Ambassador counters accusations
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia countered that in fact his country had saved 123,500 people in Mariupol, without any help from Ukraine. Over 600,000 people have been evacuated to Russian territory since its “special operation” began. “We’re not talking about coercion or abduction”, he clarified. These voluntary decisions are supported by videos on social media, he said.
To Ukraine’s President, he said: “We place on your conscience the ungrounded accusations against the Russian military,” which are uncorroborated by eye-witnesses.
He said any hopes tied to the President’s election had failed to materialize following his launch of a linguistic inquisition against Russian speakers in the Donbas region. “We were on the verge of correcting injustices” sparked by the 2014 events at Maidan, he recalled.
In reply to accusations against Russian forces criminality in Bucha, he blamed Kyiv and the Western media for promoting “flagrant inconsistencies” and said that there are, in fact, recordings of Ukrainian radicals shooting civilians.
Moreover, he said, the corpses seen in a graphic video presented to the Council by President Zelenskyy “in no way” resemble those who reportedly had been on the ground for four days. He implored Ukraine’s President to recognize that his country is only a pawn in the geopolitical game against the Russian Federation.
From the European perspective, said Olof Skoog, head of the European Union delegation – which numbers most of the nations taking in millions of refugees fleeing Ukraine – Russia’s war of aggression jeopardizes the rules-based order, as well as European and global security.
He described images from Bucha as a “stain on our common humanity”, and demanded that Moscow immediately stop its military aggression, unconditionally withdraw all forces from Ukraine and fully respect its territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognized borders.
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