Russia’s foreign minister was absent from the room as his country received widespread rebuke from the United States and others for its war in Ukraine at a UN Security Council meeting, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning fellow diplomats “The very international order we have gathered here to maintain is being torn to shreds before our very eyes.”
“We can’t — we won’t — allow President Putin to get away with it,” Blinken said in comments at Thursday’s meeting, held during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week.
The meeting came amid a week of escalating actions by Moscow, including a mobilization order for hundreds of thousands of troops and planned “mock referendums” in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
“That President Putin chose this week, as most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire he started shows his utter disregard and contempt for the UN Charter, the General Assembly of the UN and this Council,” said Blinken. .
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was absent from the room except for his own remarks, in which he rejected widespread international condemnation and once again blamed Kiev for the invasion of Moscow.
Blinken and others, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, highlighted the atrocities discovered in Ukraine, the war’s global implications for things like food security, and called on Russia to stop rattling nuclear sabers.
The top US diplomat said Vladimir Putin’s threat to use “all available weapon systems” for Russia is “all the more threatening given Russia’s intention to annex large swathes of Ukraine in the coming days.”
“Once that’s done, we can expect President Putin to claim any Ukrainian attempt to liberate this country as an attack on so-called Russian territory,” Blinken explained. “This from a country that joined the other permanent members of the Security Council here in January of this year by signing a statement affirming that, and I quote, nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought . ‘ Yet another example of how Russia is violating the commitments it has made to this body, and another reason why no one should take Russia at its word today.”
“Every member of the Council should send a clear message that these reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately,” he said.
Blinken said Russia’s efforts to annex more Ukrainian territory — which US officials say is the expected next step after the referendums held this week by the Russian-backed leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Zaporizhzhya and Kherson — are “another be a dangerous step”. escalation and rejection of diplomacy.”
“It is even more alarming when combined with the filtration operations that Russian forces have been conducting in the parts of Ukraine they control,” Blinken said. “It’s a diabolical strategy: forcibly uproot hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians; bus in Russians to replace them; to vote; and manipulate the results to show near-unanimous support for joining the Russian Federation. Straight from the Crimean script.”
He again called for accountability for the crimes exposed in formerly Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, such as Bucha, Irpin and Izyum, where mass graves have been discovered and survivors have told of torture.
“These are not the acts of rogue units; they fit a clear pattern in the area controlled by Russian forces,” Blinken said. “This is one of the many reasons we support a range of national and international efforts to collect and investigate the mounting evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.”
Blinken reiterated that the United States would continue to support Ukraine and called on others to do the same.
“President Putin is making his choice. Now it’s up to all our countries to make ours. Tell President Putin to stop the horror he started. Tell him to stop putting his interests above the interests of the rest of the world, including his own people. Tell him to stop humiliating this Council and all it stands for,” Blinken said.
“One man chose this war. And one man can end it,” he said. “Because if Russia stops fighting, the war will end. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine will stop.”