Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations has railed against Russia at a meeting of the UN Security Council, calling the Russian invasion “a Nazi-style course of action”.
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya on Friday also accused Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya of violating Security Council rules by continuing as president of the council during votes and actions that concerned his country.
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“Do you remember how many times he said that and his deputies said in this very room, that would mean no invasion, no attacks?” he said, referring to Nebenzya.
“Your words have less value than a hole in the New York pretzel.”
In the middle of his speech, Kyslytsya asked the council to sit for a moment in prayer in memory of the people who had already been killed in the invasion. At that point, Nebenzya interrupted, asking members to also remember those who had been killed in Donbas.
Russia, however, vetoed a United States-drafted resolution before the UNSC that would have deplored Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, while China abstained from the vote – a move Western countries view as a win for showing Russia’s international isolation.
China’s abstention comes just weeks after Beijing and Moscow declared a “no limits” partnership, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West.
The United Arab Emirates and India also abstained from the vote on the UNSC draft. The remaining 11 council members voted in favour.
“You can veto this resolution, but you cannot veto our voices,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told her Russian counterpart. “You cannot veto the truth. You cannot veto our principles. You cannot veto the Ukrainian people.”
Brazil’s Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho, whose country’s vote was initially in question but turned into a yes, said his government is “gravely concerned” about Russia’s military action. “A line has been crossed, and this council cannot remain silent,” he said.
In response, the Russian UN ambassador reiterated his country’s claims that it is standing up for people in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the government for eight years. He accused the West of ignoring Ukrainian abuses there.
“You have made Ukraine a pawn in your geopolitical game, with no concern whatsoever about the interests of the Ukrainian people,” he said, calling the failed resolution “nothing other than yet another brutal, inhumane move in this Ukrainian chessboard.”
Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi, reporting from UN headquarters in New York, said the speeches delivered by the various envoys on the Ukraine crisis were “impassioned”.
“Having failed to get the resolution it was seeking at the Security Council, the US ambassador suggested that she would be asking for an emergency session of the UN General Assembly,” Rattansi said.
“There is a mechanism specifically for when the Security Council is deadlocked because a permanent member is vetoing a resolution,” he said, adding the 193-member UN General Assembly would likely consider a similar resolution.
There was no immediate word on a timetable for an assembly vote.