World leaders at the United Nations have called for Russia to be held accountable for human rights violations in Ukraine as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov defended his country’s actions in the seven-month war.
Addressing a meeting of the UN Security Council on alleged atrocities committed in Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion, Lavrov on Thursday accused Ukraine of creating threats against Russian security and “brazenly trampling” the rights of Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine.
“I can assure you that we will never accept this,” said Lavrov, who only sat in the council chamber for his own speech. “Everything I’ve said today simply confirms that the decision to conduct the special military operation was inevitable.”
Ukraine has dominated discussions at the UN, where world leaders are gathering in person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The special session of the Security Council took place a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the immediate mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists to fight in a war that has already killed thousands, displaced millions, destroyed cities and undermined the global economy.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington would continue to support Ukraine to defend itself.
“The very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes,” Blinken told the council.
Lavrov was not in the room when Blinken and some other US allies spoke, but earlier accused countries supplying weapons to Ukraine and training its soldiers of being parties to the conflict, adding that “the intentional fomenting of this conflict by the collective West remained unpunished”.
Ukraine’s Western allies, he claimed, “have been covering up the crimes of the Kyiv regime”.
The US announced nearly $3bn in new military aid to Ukraine last month, making it the single largest US aid package for Ukraine since Russian forces invaded their neighbour.