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Zelensky calls to remove Russia from UN Security Council

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Genya Savilov, Pool Photo via AP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 8, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky implored the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to completely isolate Russia from the global peacekeeping body, as the majority of council members condemned Moscow for land-grabs of Ukrainian territory. 

Zelensky addressed the council as Russia carries out referendums in occupied Ukrainian territory, which the U.S. and U.K. have warned are a pretext to Moscow annexing the land and escalating its military offensive in the country. 

“No one will be surprised if this room of the U.N. Security Council will be turned into a zone of violence by representatives of Russia,” Zelensky said in video remarks delivered to the council. 

“There is only one way to stop this all. First, the complete isolation of Russia in response to everything it does. The state cannot remain a permanent member to the U.N. Security Council with the right of veto, if such a state is waging a genocidal policy right now, keeping the world one step away from a radiation disaster and at the same time keep on threatening with nuclear strikes. Russia should be excluded from all international organizations.”

Rosemary DiCarlo, the U.N.’s under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, told the Security Council that the referendum votes being carried out by Russian officials in Ukraine’s territory “cannot be regarded as legal under international law.”

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya said the results from the referenda will be published over the next few days and sought to portray them as “upholding of all electoral norms.”

“Aware that our former Western partners are not listening to us or will rather pretend not to listen to us, the Referendum were conducted exclusively transparently with upholding of all electoral norms, this is an undisputed fact,” Nebenzya said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. and Albania have authored a resolution to reject Russia’s referendum votes in Ukraine and is “calling on member states not to recognize any altered status of Ukraine and obligating Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.”

The U.S. and allies are mobilizing allies to reject Russia’s attempts at annexing territory in Ukraine, and Kyiv is pushing for supporters to double down on military assistance to deliver Moscow a decisive battlefield defeat. 

The Security Council meeting was scheduled in response to Russia’s referendum efforts and followed a meeting earlier in the week on the sidelines of the U.N.’s General Assembly, where the U.S. and other partner countries condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to call up 300,000 Russians to military service in Ukraine.

Putin, in announcing the military call-up, also warned the West that he was not bluffing in threatening the use of nuclear weapons to protect Russia and its people.

Zelensky on Tuesday said Putin’s threat “proves that Russia has no right to possess nuclear weapons as it is unable to guarantee the safety of the world, even against the threats of using nuclear weapons.”

The U.S. has said it is taking Putin’s threats seriously, even as officials say they have not seen a change in Russia’s nuclear posturing.

But a mysterious gas leak that occurred Tuesday on the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline that runs from Russia to Europe is raising concern about how the Kremlin will lash out as it falters in Ukraine. 

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, called the gas leak “sabotage”.

“Paramount to now investigate the incidents, get full clarity on events and why,” she tweeted. “Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response.” 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking during a press conference earlier on Tuesday, said the U.S. had not yet confirmed initial reports of an attack or sabotage.

“Now, my understanding is the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience, and what’s critical is that we are working day in, day out both on a short-term basis and a long-term basis to address energy security for Europe and, for that matter, around the world,” he said.

Tags annexation referendums Antony Blinken Russia-Ukraine war UN Security Council Ursula von der Leyen Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky

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