Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly called out Russia during an exceptional session of the Security Council on Wednesday. of the UN, denouncing the "criminal aggression" of Moscow and "the blockade" of the UN body due to the Russian right of veto.
“Most countries in the world recognize the truth about this war,” said Mr. Zelensky, who faced Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassili Nebenzia.
“This is a criminal and unjustified aggression by Russia against our nation, which aims to seize the territory and resources of Ukraine,” he said.
Mr. Zelensky, dressed in his usual khaki green fatigues, called on the UN to strip Russia of its veto power in the Security Council, linked to its seat as a permanent member inherited from the former USSR, victorious in World War II.
“The right of veto in the hands of the aggressor blocks the UN”, he said, judging it “impossible to stop this war because all efforts face the veto of the aggressor or those who support him.”
This is the first time since the start of the Russian invasion of his country, on February 24, 2022, that President Zelensky spoke in person before the UN Security Council.
The Wednesday's meeting, carefully choreographed, took place at the highest level with the successive interventions of numerous leaders from around the world including the Japanese Fumio Kishida, the Canadian Justin Trudeau and the German Olaf Scholz.
– “Stop war” –
A sign of a tense atmosphere, the Russian ambassador complained that the Ukrainian president was authorized to speak before the other members of the Council, denouncing a body “transformed into a one-man show” and a “spectacle”.
To which Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who holds the presidency of the Council, replied: “Stop the war and President Zelensky will no longer speak.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about a conflict in violation of the UN charter and which “aggravates geopolitical crises and divisions” in the world, while the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, returning from a recent trip to Ukraine, accused Russia of committing “war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine almost on a daily basis.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council dedicated to the situation in Ukraine, September 20, 2023 in New York © AFP – TIMOTHY A. CLARY
– “Legitimate tool” –
On the Russian side, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who entered the Council room when Mr. Blinken was speaking, defended the “legitimate tool” what is the Russian veto.
“The use of the veto is an absolutely legitimate tool stipulated in the Charter of the United Nations with the objective of preventing decisions leading to the breakup” of the UN, defended the Russian minister who did not attend the speech by President Zelensky.
As the war in Ukraine bogs down, the Ukrainian president continued his diplomatic offensive in New York on Wednesday and notably met with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The latter mentioned on his X account (formerly Twitter) “a good conversation on the means of building peace and always maintaining open dialogue between our countries”. At the UN, Lula had pleaded the fact that “no solution will be lasting if it is not based on dialogue”. Brazil refused to supply weapons to kyiv or impose sanctions against Vladimir Putin's Russia.
After New York, Mr. Zelensky must go to Washington on Thursday to be received by American President Joe Biden, who leads the coalition in support of Kiev.
Speaking Tuesday at the UN, this the latter had castigated Russia which “believes that the world will tire and let it brutalize Ukraine without consequences”.
Volodymyr Zelensky himself tried on Tuesday at the UN platform to to rally sometimes skeptical Southern countries to his cause.
His comments on certain countries which “feign solidarity” with Ukraine provoked the anger of Poland, which summoned the Ukrainian ambassador.< /p>
After a year and a half of war with cascading impacts on the world, particularly on food security, certain countries of the South are pleading more and more openly for a diplomatic solution.
” We all want the killing to stop, today rather than tomorrow,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. But peace “means respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine.”
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