A looming UN confrontation between Lavrov and the West over the atrocities in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a ceremony to receive letters of credit from newly appointed foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, September 20, 2022. Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face his Ukrainian and Western counterparts on Thursday, including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, when the United Nations Security Council meets over atrocities in Ukraine.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan will brief the 15-member body that meets during the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 when the Security Council met in New York to discuss Western concerns that Moscow was planning such a move. Read more

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“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand a just punishment,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the assembly on Wednesday in a recorded video. “The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men.” Read more

Ukraine, the United States and other countries have accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Russia denies targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation”, describing accusations of human rights violations as a smear campaign.

The Security Council meets a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hundreds of thousands of Russians to mobilize to fight in Ukraine, move to annex swathes of Ukrainian territory and threaten to use nuclear weapons. Read more

The Council was unable to take any meaningful action on Ukraine because Russia is a permanent member with veto power along with the United States, France, Britain and China. Thursday’s session will be at least 20 times the Security Council meets on Ukraine this year.

Following Guterres and Khan’s briefing, the 15 council members will speak, followed by Ukraine, several European countries, Belarus, and the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator, Josep Borrell.

In July, Lavrov pulled out of a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Indonesia when he faced calls to end the war and criticism over the conflict fueling the global food crisis. Lavrov denounced the West for its “rabid criticism”.

While it is unlikely that Russia’s seat on the United Nations Security Council will be left empty during the meeting, it was not clear how long Lavrov would remain in the room.

Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters last month that his office was investigating about 26,000 cases of suspected war crimes since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and had charged 135 people. Read more

Ukrainian officials said last week they had found hundreds of bodies, some with hands tied behind their backs, buried in an area near the northeastern town if Izyum was retaken from Russian forces, in what Zelensky described as evidence of war crimes by the invaders.

The head of the pro-Russian administration, which abandoned the area a week ago, accused the Ukrainians of orchestrating the atrocities in Izyum. Read more

This week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 5,916 civilians killed and 8,616 injured in Ukraine since the start of the conflict.

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Additional reporting by Humira Pamuk and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCall

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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