Russia’s Lavrov Leads U.N. Peace Assembly, Drawing Accusations of Hypocrisy

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A Russia deeply enmeshed within the largest battle in Europe since World Warfare II dispatched its overseas minister to the United Nations Safety Council on Monday to extol the virtues of peace and diplomacy. However Western diplomats immediately accused Moscow of hypocrisy.

The spectacle occurred as Russia nears the top of its one-month presidency of the Council. Intent on utilizing the platform to full benefit, its overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, led an all-day session described as centered on the upkeep of the U.N. constitution, worldwide guidelines and multilateralism.

However the gathering additionally supplied Russia an opportunity to denounce its adversaries and to attempt to flip the narrative of its invasion of Ukraine, casting the West because the true aggressor.

“No person allowed the Western minority to talk for all of humankind,” Mr. Lavrov mentioned on the Council. “They must be well mannered and respect all members of the worldwide neighborhood.”

For all of the theater — america and European members of the Council pointedly didn’t ship their very own overseas ministers — the session made clear the risks going through the world.

António Guterres, the U.N. secretary basic, warned that the multilateral international system was “underneath better pressure than at any time for the reason that creation of the United Nations” and cautioned that the tensions between main powers elevated the danger of battle. And Mr. Lavrov himself spoke of the world being at a “probably much more harmful threshold” than it was through the Chilly Warfare.

Whilst Russian forces maintained their brutal marketing campaign to subdue Ukraine, Mr. Lavrov supplied the Council an extended, wide-ranging speech that touched on the aggressions of the West over the a long time, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the invasion of Iraq.

However Western diplomats mentioned the aggressor immediately is clearly Russia.

“This unlawful, unprovoked and pointless warfare runs immediately counter to our most sacred precept: {that a} warfare of aggression and territorial conquest is rarely, ever acceptable,” mentioned the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield delivered to the United Nations Elizabeth Whelan, an American whose brother, Paul Whelan, is imprisoned in Russia. And she or he demanded the discharge of one other imprisoned American, the Wall Avenue Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

Richard Gowan, the U.N. director on the Worldwide Disaster Group, a overseas coverage assume tank based mostly in Brussels, mentioned: “In a way all people obtained what they wished immediately. Lavrov obtained to indicate that Russia’s place within the Safety Council is assured. Western diplomats obtained to be impolite to Lavrov. In order that was a win-win state of affairs for either side.”

However the actual viewers Mr. Lavrov was attempting to succeed in — and the chance supplied by the one-month Safety Council presidency — could nicely have lain elsewhere.

The West’s makes an attempt to punish Russia over the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine have been solely partially profitable. Many international locations in Asia and Africa, nonetheless paying the worth of Western colonialism, have shunned condemning the warfare. And infrequently trapped between competing superpowers, they discover nice attraction within the topic of the day’s Safety Council session: multilateralism.

Along with the Council’s 15-members, greater than a dozen Asian and African international locations additionally participated within the debate, calling for a extra balanced, much less polarized international order that higher upholds the objectives of the United Nations.

Nepal’s ambassador, Amrit Bahadur Rai, mentioned that for small international locations, the subject was pressing. “We count on the Council members, particularly the everlasting members, to work tougher to succeed in a consensus to deal with the issues going through the world immediately,” he mentioned.

In welcoming Mr. Lavrov as chief of the assembly, the Chinese language ambassador appeared to ship a message to the West.

“We’re in opposition to the distortion by some international locations of the that means of worldwide legislation and the imposition of their very own will on the worldwide neighborhood,” mentioned Ambassador Zhang Jun.

In an extended speech that got here earlier than Mr. Lavrov’s feedback, Mr. Guterres talked about the warfare solely as soon as.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in violation of the United Nations Constitution and worldwide legislation, is inflicting large struggling and devastation to the nation and its folks, and including to the worldwide financial dislocation triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the secretary basic mentioned.

Mr. Guterres’s obvious circumspection advised that he didn’t wish to threat alienating Mr. Lavrov forward of vital negotiations to increase a deal that allowed badly wanted Ukrainian grain trapped by the warfare to be shipped once more. The grain deal is about to run out on Could 18, and the United Nations is worried that its collapses would have dire penalties on international meals safety.

Mr. Lavrov held a one-on-one assembly with Mr. Guterres on Monday afternoon the place the 2 males mentioned the warfare in Ukraine, the grain deal, and the conditions in Afghanistan and Syria, based on a U.N. readout of the assembly.

The presidency of the Safety Council rotates between its members. Russia’s is over on the finish of the month,

The Kremlin’s adversaries couldn’t cease Russia from holding the presidency, or forestall Mr. Lavrov from presiding over Monday’s session. They may solely attempt to counter Moscow’s narrative.

Earlier than the assembly, the European Union’s ambassador to the United Nations, Olof Skoog, delivered a press release on behalf of the bloc as all its 27 ambassadors stood subsequent to him. “By organizing this debate, Russia is attempting to painting itself as a defender of the U.N. Constitution and multilateralism,” he mentioned. However, he mentioned, “All over the place you look, Russia is in contempt.”

Mr. Lavrov on Tuesday will chair a Council assembly on the battle between Israel and the Palestinians.

For all of the outrage over Russia holding the presidency, the Safety Council has carried out enterprise largely as regular over the previous weeks, with backdoor diplomacy and scheduled occasions going down as ever.

The Council addressed two crises this month: the abrupt warfare in Sudan and the Taliban banning girls from working, together with for U.N. businesses.

“In each circumstances, Russia just isn’t an outright spoiler,” mentioned Mr. Gowan, the Disaster Group analyst. “Possibly these crises have helped hold Council members in line.”

In a uncommon present of unity, Safety Council members issued an official assertion condemning the preventing in Sudan and calling for a right away cease-fire and return to political dialogue.

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