HomeWorldSecretary of State Blinken and Russia's Lavrov face off at UN

Secretary of State Blinken and Russia’s Lavrov face off at UN

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

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian cities of Izyum and Bucha exposed the horrific torture and murder of Ukrainian civilians that could not be dismissed as the actions of a few bad actors.

“Wherever the Russian tide recedes, we discover the horrors that remain in its wake,” Blinken said. “We can, we will not allow President Putin to get away with it.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied the charges and accused the Ukrainian armed forces of “punitive” killing of civilians in the eastern region of Donbas.

He accused the United States, France and Germany of not holding Ukraine responsible for alleged atrocities.

“The regime in Kiev owes its impunity to its Western sponsors,” he said.

The meeting marked only the second meeting between Blinken and Lavrov since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Moscow’s decision to attend the meeting surprised some U.S. officials who expected Russia to shy away from a topic intended to expose its plans to hold a referendum and annex occupied territory in Ukraine. to condemn.

In picking Russia as the culprit, Blinken was joined by top diplomats representing France, Britain, Norway, Albania and Ireland, as well as UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who accused the Kremlin of violating international law.

The meeting was attended by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, who said his team will travel to Ukraine in the coming days to investigate allegations in the eastern part of the country, where residents of the territory previously occupied by Russia have fled. Russian troops accused it of torture, enforced disappearances and rapes.

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Without explicitly blaming Russia, Khan made it clear that the atrocities he investigated during visits to war-scorched areas of Ukraine, including the Kiev suburb of Bucha and the northeastern city of Kharkov, were real and shocking.

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

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

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

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

“Almost every child in Ukraine is scarred by the nightmare of war,” he said.

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

India’s top diplomat, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, also avoided blaming Russia or Ukraine, simply authorizing war crimes investigations.

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