Ukraines Zelensky thrust into icy face-off with Russia at UN meeting
The two countries faced off at a special UN Security Council meeting on the war – but there was no prospect of any peace talks.
It had been unclear if Mr Zelensky would stay seated at the 15-member body’s horseshoe-shaped table if Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, decided to speak.
It had been rumoured that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would also attend, but he appeared to leave the awkward encounter to his UN ambassador instead – despite being in the same building at the time.
And the meeting itself got off to a frosty start with Nebenzya questioning why the Ukrainian President was being allowed to speak first at the event in New York.
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But Mr Zelensky remained unruffled and addressed the delegations from the other nations from around the world.
The Ukrainian leader proposed a complete overhaul of the UN Security Council to broaden membership and eliminate the Russian veto, which has stymied efforts to take action on the war.
“Most of the world recognizes the truth about this war,” he told the chamber.
“We should recognize that the UN finds itself in a deadlock on the matters of aggression.
World leaders are seeking new platforms and alliances that could reduce the disastrous scope of problems, the problems that are met here within these walls with rhetoric rather than real solutions with aspirations to compromise with killers, rather than to protect lives.”
Mr Zelensky said that even though the resolutions of the General Assembly had “clearly” recognised that Russia was the source of the war, this has meant no change for Russia within the body.
“However, these are the situations that have changed everything for the UN,” he said. “Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN when it comes to the defence of the sovereign border of nations.”
The Russian delegation also remained stony-faced as the head of the UN António Guterres gave a damning verdict on the country’s invasion.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in clear violation of the United Nations charter and international law, is aggravating geopolitical tensions and divisions, threatening regional stability, increasing the nuclear threat and creating deep fissures in our increasingly multipolar world,” UN Secretary-General Mr Guterres said.
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“The war has killed or injured tens of thousands of civilians, destroyed lives and livelihoods, traumatized a generation of children.”
Mr Zelensky had agreed to take part in the special Security Council session at the United Nations on the war ravaging his country, in the hope of solidifying support from Western allies and beyond.
The Ukrainian President has had a busy schedule since jetting into the United States on Monday. Straight from touching down at the airport in New York, he was driven to Staten Island University Hospital, where he spoke to Ukrainian soldiers who had suffered amputations.
The next day he made a historic address to the United Nations General Assembly – his first in person since the Russian invasion of his country was launched in February of last year.
In it, he warned that “evil cannot be trusted,” as he urged the world to unite to end Russian aggression against his country.
And tomorrow the Ukrainian President’s whirlwind US tour will culminate in a visit to the White House where he and President Joe Biden will have talks before holding a joint press conference. President Biden has vowed to keep up support for Kyiv.
“Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately,” he said.
Mr Zelensky will also meet with leaders of both chambers and parties in Congress today, as well as other senior US officials, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
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