Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has challenged the United Nations to “act immediately” or “dissolve yourself altogether” during a blistering address in which he showed a harrowing video of dead bodies, including children he said were victims of Russian atrocities. Likening Russia’s actions in Ukrainian cities such as Bucha to violence carried out by “terrorists” such as the Islamic State group, Zelensky called on the 15-member council which aims to ensure international peace and security to expel Russia “so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war.”
Russia, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has a veto, which it has repeatedly wielded to block resolutions and negotiations on the global stage. “If there is no alternative and no option, then the next option would be dissolve yourself altogether,” Zelensky continued.
The United Nations could be “simply closed,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close the UN? And the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.” Bearded and dressed in his now trademark military green T-shirt, Zelensky gave a chilling rendition of the atrocities he said were carried out by Russian troops against civilians in Bucha, a town outside the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and aired the graphic video showing dead bodies, including several children.
“They were killed in their apartments, houses, blowing up grenades, civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road, just for their pleasure. They cut off limbs… slashed their throats,” he said. “Women were raped and killed in front of their children, their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressors did not hear what they wanted to hear from them. “So this is no different from other terrorists such as Daesh who occupied some territory, and here it is done by a member of the United Nations Security Council,” he said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group. “Accountability must be inevitable,” he said, adding that “hundreds of thousands” of Ukrainians had also been deported to Russia. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting by warning of the global fallout from the conflict, with soaring food, energy and fertilizer prices affecting up to 1.2 billion people in 74 countries.
“The war in Ukraine must stop now,” Guterres told the Council, after calling it “one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order.” “We need serious negotiations for peace, based on the principles of the United Nations Charter,” he said. UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is also due to update the body after his recent visit to Moscow. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, sparking outrage across the world and displacing millions of Ukrainians.