Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the Security Council to act for peace or dissolve itself following the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, which was prompted by Russia’s “fully-fledged invasion”.
Zelensky, in an address to the Security Council on Tuesday in New York, described in stark detail what he said was the deliberate slaughter of civilians in Bucha by Russian forces.He challenged the Council to either remove the Russian Federation as a source of war so it can no longer block decisions made about its own aggression, or simply “dissolve yourselves altogether”, if there is nothing to do other than engage in conversation.“Are you ready to close the United Nations? Do you think that the time for international law is gone?” he asked.“Ukraine needs peace. Europe needs peace. The world needs peace,” he insisted.According to him, the Member States are dealing with a State that is turning the veto of the UN Security Council into the right to die.“If it continues, countries will rely not on international law or global institutions to ensure security, but rather, on the power of their own arms,’’ he warned.Noting that he had just returned from Bucha, the newly liberated suburb of Kyiv that has become notorious since images of mass civilian deaths there emerged at the weekend.The president recounted how Russian forces had sought and purposely killed anyone who served Ukraine.He said, in honour of the deceased: those shot in the head after being tortured, thrown into wells, crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars, and those whose limbs were cut off and tongues pulled out because the aggressors “did not hear what they wanted to hear”.He accused Russia of wanting to “turn Ukrainians into silent slaves” and openly stealing everything, “starting with food and ending with gold earrings that are pulled out and covered with blood”.These tactics, he said, were no different than those used by terrorist group Da’esh – except that they are now being perpetrated by a permanent member of the Security Council.“Where is the security that the Security Council must guarantee?” he implored.Recalling that holocaust organiser Adolf Eichmann did not go unpunished, the Ukrainian president said it was time for reform. “The power of peace must become dominant”.UN Secretary-General António Guterres while briefing the Council, expressed deep regret over divisions that have prevented the Council from acting not only on Ukraine – but on other threats to peace around the world.He urged the organisation’s flagship security body to do “everything in its power” to end the war.Similarly, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo noted that conditions had seriously deteriorated since her March 17 briefing.The number of Ukrainian civilians killed has more than doubled; Ukrainian cities continue to be mercilessly pounded, often indiscriminately, by heavy artillery and aerial bombardments; and hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped in encircled areas under nightmarish conditions.“The devastation wrought Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities is one of the shameful hallmarks of this senseless war,” she said.She called on Kyiv and Moscow to quickly translate any progress in their ongoing negotiations into action on the ground, emphasising that indiscriminate attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes.“The massive destruction of civilian objects and the high number of civilian casualties, strongly indicate that the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution have not been sufficiently adhered to,” she stressed.Addressing the Council from Geneva, Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, said that over a quarter of Ukraine’s population has fled.“Perilous conditions are hampering our efforts to access civilians – or for them to access us,” he said.In one sign of progress, he announced that in the past day, another convoy was dispatched from the humanitarian coordination hub in Dnipro to Sievierodonetsk – in the far east – with food, winter clothing, non-food items, medicine and hygiene kits offloaded to the Ukraine Red Cross on Tuesday.