On the day that part of the world celebrates 'April Fools Day', Russia assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council. But it's not a joke. As its invasion of Ukraine runs its cruel but slow course, Russia formally takes over the oversight of a body designed to maintain international peace and security. It all happens just two weeks after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes.
Ukraine called Russia's presidency of the UN Security Council a "bad joke". "Its president is a war criminal wanted for kidnapping children," said Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba.
A senior Ukrainian official on Saturday criticized the "symbolic coup" of Russia assuming the rotating presidency. "It's not just a shame. It's another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations," said Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff.
Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, along with the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom, meaning it has the coveted veto power in the body. Moscow benefits from being considered the heir to the USSR, one of the victorious countries of World War II, which are the ones that hold the key to this world forum.
The Presidency of the Security Council is rotating, among the 15 members. It is not a crucial position, although it is symbolic: he chairs meetings and deals with the main administrative work, with little scope to influence decisions. In reality, what is crucial for Russia is to be a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto power over everything that is discussed. But without a doubt, his Presidency this month will play to the detriment of the already weakened image of the UN.
The Kremlin said on Friday that it planned to "exercise all its powers" in office. The first meeting to be chaired by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be a "high-level public debate on 'effective multilateralism' through upholding the principles of the United Nations Charter," the ministry spokeswoman said. of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova. The end of the 'unipolar world' is one of Russia's obsessions, which has approached all kinds of dictatorships to stand up to the US. Russia boasts of taking on the "collective West." Lavrov is scheduled to chair another discussion session on the Middle East on April 25.
Russia is also scheduled to hold an informal Security Council meeting in early April on what it called the "real situation" of Ukrainian children taken to Russia, which is just the criminal charge against Putin. You can also take the opportunity to present speakers who defend the lies that Russian propaganda has disseminated these months: that Ukraine is a Nazi country, that Kiev threatens Russia or that Russia is not attacking civilians. But even so it is easy for other countries to reject these appearances for procedural reasons. With only nine votes they can prevent Russia from playing games with the meetings. The United States on Thursday urged Russia to "behave professionally."
Ironically, the last time Russia held the Council Presidency was in February last year, the month it launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Presidency lasts one month, and the schedule is agreed at the beginning of the year. Follow the alphabetical order of the names in English of the member countries, regardless of their democratic credentials or their respect for the law. Russia picks up the baton from Mozambique. In May it will be handed over to Switzerland, which in turn will hand it over to the United Arab Emirates.
There are another 10 rotating members, without veto power, who are elected for two-year terms from among the UN membership. But the presence of permanent members has meant that ambitious decisions cannot be made without the support of those five countries. Two of them are dictatorships: Russia has launched its troops against Ukraine and China is aiming its troops at Taiwan.
Katine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, has denounced that "a country that flagrantly violates the UN Charter and invades its neighbor has no place in the Security Council." It is true that some voices have called for the expulsion of Russia from the UN Security Council, but according to experts that is almost impossible. Precisely because Russia has the right of veto over such decisions.
One day before the one year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, the UN General Assembly demanded Russia's immediate withdrawal from the country, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, which Moscow prides itself on defending. In that vote, only six states came out in defense of Russian aggression: Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua and Syria. Among the 32 abstentions were China, India and Pakistan.
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