US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday demanded that President Vladimir Putin be held to account as he faced Russia in a Security Council session in which the United Nations catalogued abuses in Ukraine.
“The very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes,” Blinken told the Security Council in a special session as leaders met at the United Nations.
“We cannot – we will not – let President Putin get away with it,” he said. Blinken accused Putin of adding “fuel to the fire” with recent steps including calling up reservists and planning referendums in Russian-held Ukrainian territory.
The top US diplomat said it was critical to show that “no nation can redraw the borders of another by force.”
“If we fail to defend this principle when the Kremlin is so flagrantly violating it, we send the message to aggressors everywhere that they can ignore it, too.”
France, the current head of the Security Council, called the session to highlight the quest for accountability in Ukraine.
“There is no peace without justice,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna told reporters.
Opening the session, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the UN rights body has seen “a catalogue of cruelty – summary executions, sexual violence, torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment against civilians and prisoners of war.
“All these allegations must be thoroughly investigated, to ensure accountability,” he said, without directly pointing the finger at Russia.
“Perpetrators must be held to account in fair and independent judicial proceedings.
“Victims and their families have a right to justice, remedy and reparation,” Guterres said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday rejected the Western accusations at a UN Security Council session on abuses in Ukraine, calling instead for punishment of Kyiv’s government.
“The US and their allies with the connivance of international human rights organisations have been covering the crimes of the Kyiv regime,” Lavrov said after the Security Council heard accounts of abuses by Russian forces.
Blinken has refused one-on-one talks with his Russian counterpart since the invasion, doubting Moscow’s willingness for any peace efforts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, addressing the General Assembly on Wednesday, demanded a special tribunal and “punishment” for Russia over its invasion and abuses.
Highlighting evidence from Ukraine was Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, which announced an investigation into possible war crimes just days after Russia invaded its neighbour in February.
“In my view the echoes of Nuremburg should be heard today,” he told the Security Council yesterday, referring to the German city where Nazi war crimes trials were held.
(File photo) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken