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Thursday, October 6, 2022

United Nations: Lavrov’s cold shoulder – 23 minutes in the UN Security Council

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Anyone who had hoped that the world’s most powerful foreign ministers would be able to make progress on the Ukraine war in the UN Security Council was disappointed. The board in New York is experiencing a low point.

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In the UN Security Council, it is particularly noticeable who is not sitting at the round table of the most powerful foreign ministers in the world. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the chief diplomats of the USA, Germany, France, Great Britain and China gathered in the hall on Thursday in front of the huge “Mural of Peace”.

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The Ukrainian Dmytro Kuleba is also there – it’s about Russia’s war of aggression against his country. But one is missing: Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Escalation instead of dialogue

It is 11:29 a.m. local time when the Russian, almost 90 minutes late, steps through the wooden doors of the hall and takes his blue chair – for the first time since the beginning of the war. Lavrov spoke three minutes later. Foreign ministers listen with a serious expression as the 72-year-old defends the conflict – and allows it to escalate further.

“This policy of wearing down and weakening Russia means that the West is directly interfering in the conflict and making it a party to the conflict,” Lavrov said in response to the arms deliveries and support for Ukraine. Crimes by the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are being covered up by the West along the lines of “Zelenskyy may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard,” he raged.

Just a day earlier, Lavrov’s boss had once again ruled the world news. President Vladimir Putin announced the partial mobilization of the armed forces to his people. Chancellor Olaf Scholz described this as an “act of desperation” in view of the Russian army’s loss of territory in Ukraine. And a thinly veiled nuclear threat from Putin made it clear that real dialogue cannot wait.

Comments from other countries: Undesirable

But Lavrov made it all too clear before the United Nations on this rainy Thursday morning in New York that Russia is not ready for this at the moment. When he finally switched off his microphone, he looked at his watch, got up and left the room at 11:52 a.m. – without even listening to the statement from another country.

Lavrov is in the UN Security Council for 23 minutes – the body is experiencing one of its lows that day.

“He left the Chamber. I’m not surprised,” criticized British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. Lavrov did not want to hear the collective condemnation of the Security Council. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the latest escalations during the general debate at the UN General Assembly show Moscow’s “utter contempt” for the UN and diplomacy. At the same time, he emphasizes that Kyiv remains no alternative to fighting: “If Russia stops fighting, the war will be over. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine will be finished.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is calling on Russia to end the fighting. “This is a war that you will not win,” says the Green politician, without naming Putin. At the same time, she urges: “Stop sending even more of your own citizens to their deaths.”

Zelenskyj wants justice

The night before, Selenskyj had received prolonged applause for his video address to the UN General Assembly with its 193 members. Most of those present rose, the Russians remained seated. Once again clad in an olive drab military shirt, Zelenskyy exuded the confidence of a wartime president with troops advancing on the battlefield. His face might be streaked with lines of exhaustion, but the reckoning with Putin was forceful: “Russia will be forced to end this war.” And the neighboring country must be punished for its crimes, he demanded.

The 44-year-old Ukrainian never once mentioned Putin by name. But Selenskyj left no doubt who he meant. There is only one “who, if he could interrupt my speech, would now say that he is satisfied with this war”. With a view to Russia, he added: “But we will not let this entity determine us, even though it is the largest country in the world.” But Zelenskyi also had a message for those war-weary countries whose support is crumbling somewhat: there is no such thing as neutrality in this war, at most indifference.

There must be justice, Zelenskyj demanded. “A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand punishment.” Probably referring to the world-famous novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, he said: After all, Russia is well acquainted with the principle of “guilt and punishment”.

When Selenskyj’s Foreign Minister Kuleba then speaks in the Security Council, Lavrov has long since left. Kuleba emphasizes his country’s will to end the conflict. “We just want to lead a normal life.” But it is not enough that Ukraine wants peace. Russia must give diplomacy a chance. But that seems impossible on that day: “I also noticed today that Russian diplomats are fleeing just like Russian soldiers.”

Source: Stern

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