Western diplomats slammed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during Monday’s United Nations Security Council meeting.
Lavrov chaired the meeting because Russia, one of the Security Council’s five permanent members, currently holds its rotating presidency.
The meeting was titled, “Maintenance of international peace and security”—which compelled U.N. ambassadors from the U.S., the United Kingdom and Switzerland to use their allotted speeches to condemn Russia’s February 2022 invasion of its sovereign neighbor, Ukraine.
“Our hypocritical convener today, Russia, invaded its neighbor, Ukraine, and struck at the heart of the U.N. Charter,” said U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “This illegal, unprovoked and unnecessary war runs directly counter to our most shared principles-–that a war of aggression and territorial conquest is never, ever acceptable.”
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who sat next to Lavrov at the meeting, also condemned Russia’s aggressions.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, 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,” he said.
Monday’s meeting was also attended by Elizabeth Whelan, sister of American Paul Whelan who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 and is serving 16-year-sentence in a penal colony on what his family says are fabricated charges of spying. Soon after Whelan’s imprisonment, the U.S. State Department designated him as “wrongfully detained.”
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, member nations of the European Union issued a joint statement condemning both the invasion of Ukraine and Lavrov’s presence inside the Security Council.
“Russia is trying to portray itself as a defender of the U.N. charter and multilateralism. Nothing can be further from the truth. It’s cynical,” said Olaf Skoog, European Union representative to the U.N. “We all know that while Russia is destroying, we are building. While they violate, we protect.”
In his opening remarks, Lavrov ticked off a string of unsubstantiated accusations against Ukraine and its Western allies, blaming them for Russia’s invasion.
Citing the Cold War, which officially ended more than 30 years ago, Lavrov warned that the global community had reached a “possibly even more dangerous threshold.”
He also conjured Nazi imagery by making baseless assertions of “putschists” in Ukraine—a notion Russian officials have repeatedly used to try to justify their invasion.
Members from about 50 countries spoke at the meeting, including China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun, who joined in Lavrov’s call to preserve multilateralism.