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A weary Zelensky challenges U.N. to act with graphic video



Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday accused Russia of war crimes during a remote appearance before the United Nations Security Council that included a gruesome video of a corpse, defying diplomats. take bold action or risk exposing the world body as an empty institution.

“Are you ready to shut down the UN?” Zelensky asked wearily, loitering across the boardroom on a large video screen. “Do you think the days of international law are over? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.”

Zelensky said the Russian military tortured and killed civilians, burned bodies and raped women in front of their children. His video shows charred bodies, amputated limbs and mass graves. While The Washington Post could not independently confirm the accuracy of the stylized presentation, many similar images have been verified in recent days. And journalists who went to areas of Ukraine recently wiped out the Russian army published many interviews about the atrocities allegedly committed during the invasion.

The presentation seemed to have alarmed the diplomats at the council; Even countries that have been seriously neutral in many meetings on Ukraine, such as India, have lined up to call for an independent investigation into the alleged atrocities. But the diplomats, constrained by Russia’s ability to veto any resolution within its powers as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, failed to do so. any action in response to Zelensky’s proposal for Moscow to become a member of the Human Rights Council.

In devastated Chernihiv, survivors asked, ‘Why?’

Many of the photos in Zelensky’s video are said to have been taken in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv that was recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, where Russian troops are accused of mass killing civilians. The release of verified images from Bucha over the weekend led to widespread outrage and calls for the international community to step up pressure on Russia over a ceasefire and withdrawal of forces from Ukraine.

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, told the council that reports of Russian involvement in the Bucha death were “fake” and that “Nazi” Ukraine was responsible for war crimes .

But Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters as he left Washington for a NATO meeting in Brussels, called the reports on Russia’s responsibility “most credible”. The alleged massacres were “not the random act of a rogue unit,” he said, but were a “deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit acts of violence.” brutal action.”

“There is proof for the world to see,” Blinken said. “This strengthens our resolve and the determination of the nations of the world to ensure that in one way or another, one day or another, there is accountability to those who have committed these acts. this vi.”

Ukrainian human rights groups and prosecutors are gathering information in Bucha and across the country about what Zelensky thinks should be an international court to prosecute Russian government and military officials for crimes war. France says its counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office has open three probes on criminal charges by Russian forces, demanding jurisdiction over acts in Ukrainian cities that have the potential to affect French nationals.

Town by town, Ukrainian prosecutors build war crimes cases

In a move in response to the alleged massacres, the European Commission propose a new sanctions package The third includes a ban on Russian coal imports, sanctions against four Russian banks and a ban on Russian ships from entering European ports, among other measures. The proposal will be debated by the ambassadors of the European Union on Wednesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “These atrocities cannot and will not go unanswered. “It is important to maintain maximum pressure on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian government at this critical moment.” However, the package does not meet the requirements of an embargo on Russian oil or natural gas and is unlikely to silence the EU call to do more.

As Russia’s isolation from the West deepens, the EU, along with several countries, expels Russian diplomats, saying it has declared 19 members of Russia’s EU mission in Brussels to be non-existent. grata for “activities contrary to their diplomatic mission”.

America The Ministry of Finance this week banned Russia from withdrawing money held in American banks to pay off debt obligations, an attempt to force the Kremlin to choose between a catastrophic default and other tough economic measures. And the Biden administration on Wednesday will announce sanctions including a ban on all new investments in Russia, sanctions on Russian banks and state-owned enterprises, and measures additional sanctions on Russian government officials, according to a person familiar with the matter. anonymously to reflect unpublished measures.

In Washington, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, endorsed the idea of ​​regular rotations of US troops to NATO countries as a way of strengthening the country’s borders with Russia.

“My advice is to create permanent bases, but not permanently station them,” Milley told the House Armed Services Committee. It would be cheaper to rotate forces through permanent bases because it would eliminate the need for things like family homes and schools, he said. Eastern European countries may be willing to pay for the bases, Milley said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, testifying alongside Milley, was more cautious, saying NATO would discuss any change to its “footprint” in Europe at a summit scheduled for September 6.

Ukrainian villagers describe Russia’s brutal and barbaric occupation

While the Security Council was unable to take any action against Moscow’s objections, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called on states to vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council – a move that requires two-thirds of the votes cast by all member states and will not be vetoed.

She told the Council session: “Russia should not have a position of power in an agency whose purpose is to promote respect for human rights. “Not only is the height of hypocrisy, it is also dangerous. Russia is using its membership of the Human Rights Council as a platform for propaganda showing that Russia has a legitimate interest in human rights.”

The 193-member General Assembly last month vehemently condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which suggests a moratorium – for countries that repeatedly violate human rights – will be passed.

In his response to Zelensky, Russian UN Ambassador Nebenzya addressed the Ukrainian president by his own name and Russian initials, telling him: “We place on your conscience unfounded accusations against the Russian army, without being confirmed by any witnesses.”

Russia’s goal in Ukraine, he said, is “not to conquer lands” but to bring “peace to the bloody Donbas,” the largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine where troops and soldiers Russian mercenaries have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014 Nebenzya said: “We need to root out the cruelty, cut off the Nazi malignancy. “We’re going to get there.”

But Moscow’s statement was met with stiff opposition in the council from countries including France, Norway, the UK and the US, as well as UN officials. Secretary-General António Guterres denounced the “meaningless loss of life” and “the destruction of civilian infrastructure” and supported him calling for an independent investigation. Deputy Secretary-General Rosemary A. DiCarlo called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and said that serious violations of international law must be held accountable.

Zelensky, grasping agonizing images of bodies tied to the wrists with bullet holes in their heads, has called on the international community to bring Russian leaders and soldiers before a special court to adjudicated “immediately”.

If the United Nations is incapable of stopping violations like Russia’s in Ukraine and promoting peace, it will dissolve on its own: “Admit it if you can’t do anything but chat,” Zelensky said. .

U.S. and European officials have said separately that while Zelensky’s demands are sometimes fanciful, they have had the effect of pushing world leaders beyond their comfort zones, such as providing give Ukraine more powerful weapons or implement sanctions that hurt Russia but increase the cost of gas. and other products for their citizens.

Nebenzya, speaking again in response to interference from other members, offered a lengthy timeline that he said demonstrated how Ukrainian forces, not Russia, were responsible for the with any act of brutality. Russian troops, he said, withdrew from Bucha last Wednesday, March 30, three days earlier Reports of tortured, shot and burned bodies lying in the streets has been widely circulated.

Nebenzya said: “Without any evidence, based on the presumption of guilt, the Russian military is being accused of some evil deeds.

Behind Putin’s ‘anonymization’ statement

Addressing “my colleagues” on the panel through a UN interpreter, he said “we understand very well that what you are doing by fueling anti-Russian hysteria every day , so we assume there will be more horrendous provocations similar to the one in Bucha … new attempts to discredit Russian soldiers and present them as murderers and rape. It was an “extremely low blow,” he said.

He then glared across the boardroom at United Nations Ambassador to Ukraine Sergiy Kyslytsya, who called Russia a hypocrite, asking: “When did you start liking to act like the Nazis? Killing civilians, intending to redraw internationally recognized borders… set the task of finally solving the Ukraine problem, just like Hitler intends to solve the Jewish problem? ”

Kyslytsya recounts that Nazi officials, such as Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was Hitler’s foreign minister, “denied any knowledge of concentration camps, genocide policies race, but was convicted in Nuremberg. war crimes trial”.

“And we all know what happened to him on October 16, 1946,” Kyslytsya said, recalling the day Ribbentrop was executed.

Karoun Demirjian and Missy Ryan in Washington; Robert Klemko in Kosiv, Ukraine; Rick Noack in Paris; and Emily Rouhala of Brussels contributed to this report.



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