Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations’ Security Council (UNSC) on Saturday, unaffected by the continuing war in Ukraine and the fact that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is subject to an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes.
The last time that Russia had the presidency of the Security Council –whose mission is described as being that of “maintaining international peace and security”- was in February 2022, when it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Russia assumes the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of April.
Follow @RussiaUN for updates. https://t.co/HY9A9l8bCM pic.twitter.com/absWJ9rXcq
— United Nations (@UN) April 1, 2023
Russia’s presidency of the international body is “a slap in the face to the international community,” complained Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.
But despite Ukraine’s repeated complaints over the matter, the United States said it could not block Russia from assuming the presidency.
“Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and no feasible international legal pathway exists to change that reality,” White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a Press briefing on Thursday.
“The reality is this is a larger position, which rotates to council members month by month in alphabetical order,” she commented.
Jean-Pierre urged Russia to conduct itself professionally during its month-long presidency of the UNSC, but added that Russia was expected to continue to use its seat on the council to spread disinformation and justify its actions in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials react to Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council
Top Ukrainian officials reacted boldly to the Russian presidency of the UNSC.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, Adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it “another rape of international law.”
RF’s presidency of the UN Security Council since April 1 is another rape of international law. An entity that wages an aggressive war, violates the norms of humanitarian & criminal law, destroys the UN Charter, neglects nuclear safety can’t head the world’s key security body.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) March 31, 2023
“Russian presidency in the UNSC is a stark reminder that something is wrong with the way international security architecture is functioning. A state that systemically ruins international peace and security will be presiding over the body tasked with maintaining them,” Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, posted on Twitter on Friday.
In a later post, he urged the current UNSC members to thwart any Russian attempts to abuse its presidency.
“I also remind that Russia is an outlaw on the UNSC,” Kuleba added.
“As of 1 April, they’re taking the level of absurdity to a new level,” said Sergiy Kyslytsy, Ukrainian permanent representative to the UN.
“The security council as it is designed is immobilised & incapable to address the issues of their primary responsibility, prevention of conflicts and then dealing with conflicts,” he added.
Arrest Warrant for Putin by the International Criminal Court
Two weeks before Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, arrest warrants were issued for war crimes by judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.
The ICC, which is not a UN institution, explained at the time that Putin and Lvova-Belova were suspected of the war crime of unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.
There are reasonable grounds to believe President Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for such deportations since the launch of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the ICC statement read.