The country’s criminally accused war leader is now in charge of the United Nations Security Council. Hard as it is to believe, it is Russia’s turn to assume the presidency of a powerful body that is supposed to maintain global peace and security.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described Russia’s decision by the presidency on April 1 to extend its brutal invasion of Ukraine into a second year as “the world’s most stupid April Fool’s joke.”
“A country that systematically violates all the basic norms of international security presides over a body whose sole mission is to protect and defend international security,” Kuleba said.
The presidency of the security council is rotated alphabetically among its 15 member nations. Its body is governed by five permanent members, based in the US and Russia.
The UN diplomatic community is well aware that they are openly skeptical of Russia’s policy while occupying parts of Ukraine with its forces, a UN member state. Few remember that Russia was the last president of the Council in February 2022 – in the run up to the invasion of Ukraine.
The President of the Security Council is supposed to remain neutral. But in his new role, Russia can run meetings in Ukraine and use the month to paint the US and other Western countries with false accusations against Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last month became the first head of state to issue a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with an arrest warrant over an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children. Russia Moscow defends the practice by denying forced deportations.
“It seems more ridiculous … it makes the Council look bad,” International Crisis Group UN head Richard Gowan said of Russia’s assumption of the presidency.
However, Russian aides here at UNHQ, meanwhile, say they see historical parallels for the current situation, showing that the US, a permanent member of the Security Council, invaded Iraq in 2003 without a strategic plan.
At the end of the day, the problem “isn’t the Russian presidency. It’s Russian behavior in Ukraine,” the Security Council diplomat told CNN.
Last year, Ukraine questioned whether Russia had any right to a permanent seat on the council, pointing out at public meetings that Moscow had taken the former Soviet Union’s seat without a vote in the early 1990s.
But can Russia cut off the Council or expel the entire UN from its activities in Ukraine?
The UN Charter, the basis of the Constitution, does not easily exclude a permanent member of the Council. The intervention of the Russians can easily keep their ambassadors on the board of the sole council forever.
“Aggression that blatantly violates the UN Charter and attacks minor neighbors has no place in the Security Council. Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Council and there is no international legal way to change that,” a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN told CNN.
Anything that can be done in the austere body is to challenge what Russia says there – something that the US has vowed to do. “We continue to call their lies and credible statements, data and facts on the ground,” the US spokesman said.
The longer the war drags on, the more compelling Russia’s position in the UN becomes. But like most meetings here, the greatest weapon is rhetoric.