Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy challenged the United Nations to "act immediately" or "dissolve yourself altogether" Tuesday during a blistering address in which he showed a harrowing video of dead bodies —including children — he said were victims of Russian atrocities.
Likening Russia's actions in Ukrainian cities such as Bucha to violence carried out by "terrorists" such as the Islamic State group, Zelenskyy called on the 15-member council – whose stated goal is to ensure international peace and security — to expel Russia "so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war."
Russia, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, has a veto, which it has repeatedly wielded to block resolutions and negotiations on the global stage.
"If there is no alternative and no option, then the next option would be dissolve yourself altogether," Zelensky continued.
The United Nations could be "simply closed," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close the UN? And the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately."
Russia says it is carrying out a "special military operation" that aims to destroy Ukraine's military infrastructure and "denazify" it, and denies attacking civilians. Ukraine says it was invaded without provocation.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council: "We've heard once again a huge amount of lies about Russian soldiers and military."
The United Nations said some 11 million Ukrainians — more than a quarter of the population — have fled their homes. More than 4 million of those people have left Ukraine.
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said at least 1,430 civilians have been killed, including more than 121 children. "We know this is likely a serious underestimate," he added.
Griffiths, who is seeking a humanitarian truce in Ukraine, said "we have a long road ahead of us" after what he described as a "frank" meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Monday.
"Perilous conditions are hampering our efforts to access civilians - or for them to access us. Civilians must be allowed to move to safer areas without the fear of attacks," Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. He said he hopes to travel to Ukraine on Wednesday to meet with Ukrainian officials.
U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said the United Nations had received credible allegations "that Russian forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times." She said allegations that Ukrainian forces have used such weapons were also being investigated.
"Allegations of conflict-related sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces have also emerged. These include gang rape and rapes in front of children," she said. "There are also claims of sexual violence by Ukrainian forces and civil defense militias."
She said the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine was seeking to verify all allegations.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order "because of its nature, intensity, and consequences."
Guterres said the war was putting even more pressure on the developing world, with more than 1.2 billion people particularly vulnerable to spiking food, energy and fertilizer costs.
"We are already seeing some countries move from vulnerability into crisis, and signs of serious social unrest," he added.
This report contains material from Reuters and AFP;.
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