Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday accused Russia of being a “terrorist” state that carries out “daily terrorist acts” and urged Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations.
In a virtual speech to the UN Security Council, Zelenskyy urged the UN to establish an international tribunal to investigate “the actions of Russian occupiers on Ukrainian soil” and hold the country accountable.
“We need to take urgent action to do everything to stop Russia from killing the massacre,” Zelenskyy said, warning that Russia’s “terrorist activity” would otherwise spread to other European countries and Asia, with the sole exception of the Baltic. states, Poland, Moldova and Kazakhstan.
“What is punished at the level of specific criminals and criminal organizations should not go unpunished at the level of a state that has become a terrorist,” he said. “Daily terrorist actions. No days off. They work like terrorists every day.”
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Zelenskyy urged the removal of Russia from the 193-member United Nations, citing Article 6 of the UN Charter stating that any member “who has consistently violated the principles of this Charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly.” on the recommendation of the Security Council.”
However, Russia’s expulsion is virtually impossible. That’s because as a permanent councilor, Russia could use its veto to block any attempt to oust it.
Ukraine called the council meeting after the recent surge in attacks in Russia, including Monday’s fiery airstrike on a busy shopping center in the central city of Kremenchuk, which killed at least 18 people and injured 30 others, according to Zelenskyy. “Dozens are missing” and body fragments have been found, including hands and feet, he said, adding that unfortunately there could be more victims.
The Ukrainian leader began his speech by listing the Russian attacks in recent days and the first names and ages of many of the victims. He finished his speech and asked the 15 members of the Security Council and others in the room to commemorate the “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian children and adults who died in the war.
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All members rose, including the UN Deputy Ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Polyansky.
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When he later took the floor, Polyansky protested against giving Zelenskyy a second chance to address the Security Council, a decision by the Albanian who will hold the council’s presidency this month.
The Russian envoy said the Ukrainian president’s video address violated the council’s traditions and existing practices that leaders who wish to speak with the council must be present in the room.
“The UN Security Council should not be turned into a platform for an external PR campaign by President Zelenskyy to get more weapons from participants at the NATO summit,” which begins Wednesday in Madrid, Polyansky said.
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He claimed there was no Russian attack on the Kremenchuk mall and said Russian precision weapons hit hangars in the Kremenchuk road machinery factory containing weapons and ammunition from the United States and Europe destined for Ukrainian troops in eastern Donbass.
The mall was some distance away, but the explosion of ammunition “started a fire that then spread to the mall,” Polyansky said.
The Russian envoy told western countries that by supplying arms to Ukraine, they are extending the time Ukrainian leaders will “sit at the negotiating table with a realistic position rather than slogans”.
“We have launched a special military operation to stop Ukraine’s shelling of Donbass and to ensure that the territory of this country, which has been turned anti-Russia at the behest of some Western countries, as well as its nationalist leadership, keeps to pose a threat to Russia or the inhabitants of southern and southeastern Ukraine,” he said. “And until those goals are met, our operation will continue.”
British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward replied that Russia “may try to claim that nothing is true and make outrageous claims about Ukrainian provocations”, but the undeniable fact is that Russia has invaded Ukraine.
“There’s one aggressor here,” she said. “The evidence will catch up with them and responsibility will be taken for these crimes.”
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Ambassador Zhang Jun of China, a close ally of Russia, called the conflict “a geopolitical crisis” with multiple spillovers and urged the international community to work together to create the conditions for Russian-Ukrainian peace talks to end hostilities in a to end early.
“Attempts to arm the global economy and force other countries to take sides will artificially divide the international community and make the world even more insecure,” Zhang warned. “Slowing down and hindering diplomatic negotiations for geopolitical purposes will only add fuel to the fire to intensify confrontation and heighten conflict. It is inevitable that they will hurt themselves.”
US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills accused Russia, like many other Western ambassadors, of destroying the mall, saying the attack “fits a brutal pattern, one in which the Russian military kills civilians and destroys civilian infrastructure in Ukraine”.
He stressed that there is ample public evidence “that Russia, and Russia alone” is responsible for these and other attacks.
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