Ukraine’s international allies blasted Russia during a United Nations Security Council meeting chaired by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that focused on protecting the principles of the UN’s charter, which Moscow itself is accused of violating by invading Ukraine last year.
In a note to UN member states laying out the premise for the meeting on Monday, Russia denounced the “unipolar world order” that took effect after the end of the Cold War.
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Before the meeting, Lavrov said the UN system was “enduring a profound crisis”, and accused Western countries, particularly the United States, of being responsible.
“It’s not all about Ukraine,” he told reporters.
“It’s about how international relations will continue to be shaped through the establishment of a sound consensus on the basis of balance of interests or through aggressive and volatile advancement of Washington’s hegemony,” Lavrov said.
Russia currently holds the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council and organised the meeting as one of the “signature” events of its tenure.
Addressing the meeting, Lavrov warned the world was at a threshold “possibly even more dangerous” than during the Cold War.
“The situation is worsened with the loss of trust in multilateralism,” he said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. Nobody allowed the Western minority to speak on behalf of all of humankind,” he added.
Sitting next to Lavrov during the meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “violation” of international law and the UN charter.
The war “is causing massive suffering and devastation to the country and its people, and adding to the global economic dislocation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Guterres said.
“The multilateral system is under greater strain than at any time since the creation of the United Nations,” he said. “Tensions between major powers are at an historic high. So are the risks of conflict, through misadventure or miscalculation.”
A string of Security Council members, including the US, France and the United Kingdom, condemned Russia for its war on Ukraine.
“By organizing this debate Russia is trying to portray itself as a defender of the UN charter and multilateralism. Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s cynical,” European Union Ambassador Olof Skoog said.
The UK’s Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the world has seen “what Russia’s idea of multilateralism means for the world” – the trampling of the UN Charter and a war that has brought unimaginable suffering to Ukraine and been “an unmitigated disaster for Russia, too”.
Washington’s UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, clutched a copy of the UN charter in her hand and stressed the importance of defending its values.
“Our hypocritical convener today, Russia, invaded its neighbour in Ukraine and struck at the heart of the UN charter,” Thomas-Greenfield told the meeting.
Russia’s actions during the 14-month war show that the invasion of Ukraine was not an isolated incident, she said.
“This does not just concern Ukraine or Europe. It concerns all of us. Because today it’s Ukraine, But tomorrow it could be another country, another small nation that is invaded by its larger neighbour.”