Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya speaks during an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, New York, US, on May 13, 2012.
David Dee Delgado | Reuters
Russia took over the presidency of the United Nations Security Council over the weekend, even as its own invasion of Ukraine continues to escalate.
The last time Moscow headed the body that was “supporting international peace and security” was in February 2022, the month in which it invaded Ukraine.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, will once again take over the rotating presidency in April, a situation Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba called on Thursday “a bad joke.”
“Frankly speaking, you can’t imagine a worse joke for April Fools’ Day. A country that has systematically violated all the basic norms of international security for a president whose only mission is to protect international security,” Kuleba told the Chetham House event via video link from Kyiv.
“I don’t think that Russia will be able to change the balance within the Security Council in its presidency. This will try to abuse the rights of the presidency to push its own narratives, but it is doubtful that they will be able to have a sufficient number of votes for the council to make decisions on matters specifically related to Ukraine.”
The Russian Federation inherited its seat as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council from the USSR in 1992 with unanimous support, and therefore holds the power to intervene in its recommendations.
The presidency rotates each month among the 15 members, with the other five permanent members being China, France, the UK and the US along with 10 non-permanent members elected by the UN General Assembly for two years.
Five permanent members have the power of intervention, all five must affirmatively sign any resolution for a vote. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow negotiated a halt to the war, with China, India and the UAE abstaining.
This means that the presidency will not result in the passage of any pro-Russian statement, and the task will appear largely as procedural, but Moscow will be able to set the agenda for discussions in the next month and is expected to use them. It was preceded by pro-Russian narratives.
A ‘systemic impact’
Ukrainian officials and a number of international observers and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for Russia to be removed from its membership, and in recent weeks the Western permanent members are said to have intervened in the presidency.
But the US is bound by the UN Charter, which does not allow enforcement of permanent membership.
“Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and there is no feasible international legal way to change that,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing in Washington last week.
However, the presidency being held by a country whose president is currently under arrest by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes has raised serious questions about his plan.
Moscow Ambassador Nebenzya told Russia’s TASS news agency recently that he intends to take care of various debates, including a discussion about a “new world order” that he said would “replace the unipolar” relationship between Russia and its allies at the border. It takes a long time to travel to the US.
“This presidency is a great reminder that there is something wrong with the way international security works if a country that illegally acquired a seat as a permanent member of the Security Council presides over the body, while exercising great power to act against aggression. Another member of the sovereign and another member of the United Nations foundation,” said Kuleba .
“The best we can do is take these months to actually shine a light on the problems in multilateralism and the problems that Russia is exploiting for its own gain.”
His scandal was discovered on Saturday by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said of Russia’s ascension to the throne, “It is difficult to think of anything more obvious that would prove the complete bankruptcy of such institutions.”
Zelenskyy’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak wrote on Twitter over the weekend that the situation is “another symbolic blow to the rules-based international relations.”