Secretary of State Blinken and Russian President Lavrov face off at UN

NEW YORK — Russian and Western diplomats clashed over Ukraine’s alleged war crimes at a heated meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the Russian withdrawal from the Ukrainian cities of Izum and Butcha exposed the horrific torture and killing of Ukrainian civilians that cannot be dismissed as the actions of a few bad guys.

“Wherever the Russian tide recedes, we will find the horrors it leaves behind,” Blinken said. “We cannot, we will not let President Putin go unpunished.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied the allegations and accused Ukrainian forces of killing civilians in the eastern Donbas region with “impunity”.

He accused the United States, France and Germany of failing to hold Ukraine accountable for the alleged atrocities.

“The Kyiv regime is being punished with impunity for its Western supporters,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba seized on Lavrov’s remarks, saying his remarks made him an accomplice in Ukrainian crime.

“Russian diplomats are directly complicit because their lies incite these crimes and cover them up,” he said.

The meeting was the second time Blinken and Lavrov have been in the same room since February 2 in Russia. 24 Invasion of Ukraine. Moscow’s decision to attend the meeting came as a surprise to some U.S. officials, who expected Russia to back down on a topic aimed at exposing and condemning its plans to hold a referendum in Ukraine and annex occupied territories.

In blaming Russia alone, Blinken joined top diplomats from France, Britain, Norway, Albania and Ireland, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in accusing the Kremlin of violating international law.

ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan, who attended the meeting, said his team will be deployed to Ukraine in the coming days to investigate allegations in the eastern part of the country, where residents of the Russian-occupied territory have accused Russian troops of torture, enforced disappearances and rape.

Without explicitly blaming Russia, Khan made it clear that the atrocities he investigated during his visit to war-torn parts of Ukraine, including the Kyiv suburb of Butcha and the northeastern city of Kharkiv, were real and appalling.

“The bodies I saw were not fake,” he said.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Russia had committed “unspeakable crimes” and officials who committed, ordered or planned them must be held accountable.

Guterres called Moscow’s plan to hold a referendum on joining Russia in occupied Ukraine “in violation of the UN Charter, international law and precedent”.

The world’s top diplomat also blamed the Russian bombing of urban areas for the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, including hundreds of children.

“Almost every Ukrainian child is wounded by the nightmare of war,” he said.

Lavrov entered the Security Council chamber before the end of his speech. He left the room after condemning Western support for Ukraine.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged both sides to exercise restraint and stressed the importance of the United Nations being impartial in the conflict.

India’s top diplomat, Subramaniam Jashankar, also avoided blaming Russia or Ukraine, simply supporting the war crimes investigation.

Russia’s close ally Belarus hints Kremlin pre-war statement, The West’s stance on Ukraine’s possible NATO membership and Kyiv’s efforts to align more closely with the West pose a threat to the security balance in the region.

“The tragic result of this arrogant stance [is what] We see today in Ukraine. We have always reiterated that you cannot guarantee the security of one country by suppressing the security of another,” Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said. “No one takes this seriously. Today, we are reaping it all. “

The statement during the Security Council meeting came with world leaders in New York for the annual high-level meeting of the United Nations.A theme raised by many leaders, including President Biden, in addresses to the Global Assembly of Institutions is the desire to maintain unity among nations that have acted. Extraordinary Measures have been taken since February to support Ukraine, supply arms, impose sanctions and reduce reliance on Russian energy.

Eastern European leaders are on the front lines of Russia’s showdown with NATO, with U.S. hopes pro-Ukraine alliance can High prices for energy and other commodities despite growing pressure expected in coming months perhaps There will be increasing losses to the populations of these countries.

Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova says Slovakia, which borders Ukraine, will continue to send military aid to Kyiv, which may now include MiG fighter jets That Poland and the Czech Republic have agreed to regulate Slovakian skies. But she conceded that some Slovaks just want to end the conflict, whoever has the upper hand.

“its exist Our own interest is to continue to patiently explain to our people that supporting Ukraine is not just some kind of charity,” she said through an interpreter in an interview. “It is in the national interest for Ukraine to defend itself and win this war. “

The country’s foreign minister, Ulmas Reinsalu, said Estonia’s support for Ukraine, which borders Russia, remains strong.

“Cowardice and courage are fighting within every country,” Reinsalu said in an interview. “Will our resolve be stronger?”

Estonia is one of the countries calling for stronger economic measures against the Russian economy, including A far-reaching commercial embargo and the severance of Russia’s banking sector from the rest of the world have starved the Kremlin of revenue.

Unlike the rest of Europe, Ukrainians have no choice but to keep fighting Russia, Reinsalu said. Moscow may have inadvertently made Ukrainians all too aware of the stakes in the conflict, he said.

“They know their options, and if they give up or compromise, it means the whole country will be Bukhas,” he said.

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