Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on April 24, 2023 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images News | Getty Images

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Western allies took turns slamming Russia for its ongoing war in Ukraine and accused Moscow of trampling the U.N. Charter, during a lengthy Security Council meeting chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov, who flew from Moscow to New York to preside over the Security Council, defended his country’s “special military operation” in Ukraine in opening remarks before the international forum. He also reiterated claims that Kyiv is the real aggressor.

Lavrov then blamed the United States for exacerbating geopolitical challenges around the world, including tensions between China and Taiwan.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., placed the blame squarely back on Russia during her opening remarks before the 15-member group.

“Our hypocritical convener today, Russia, invaded its neighbor Ukraine and struck at the heart of the U.N. Charter,” Thomas-Greenfield said, referring to the U.N.’s founding document that vows to preserve sovereignty, peace, justice and the prevention of war.

“This illegal, unprovoked and unnecessary war runs directly counter to our most sacred principle: that a war of aggression and territorial conquest is never, ever acceptable,” she said. “Today it’s Ukraine, but tomorrow it could be another country, another small nation that is invaded by its larger neighbor,” she added.

In direct remarks to Lavrov, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated calls for the immediate release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, whose sister attended the meeting.

“I want minister Lavrov to look into her eyes and see her suffering. I want you to see what it’s like to miss your brother for four years. To know he is locked up, in a Russian penal colony, simply because you want to use him for your own ends,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, stands as she is acknowledged by U.S. Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on April 24, 2023 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who sat next to Lavrov, criticized Russia’s war, saying it was in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.

The conflict, he said, was “causing massive suffering and devastation to the country and its people and adding to the global economic dislocation triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He warned that tensions between the world’s major powers were at a “historic high.”

Guterres also called for the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a U.N.-backed deal that established a humanitarian sea corridor for Ukrainian agricultural products.

The agreement has allowed for more than 25 million metric tons of grain and foodstuff to depart from Ukrainian ports for destinations around the world. Russia has previously said that it may not renew the agreement, which has an expiration date in mid-May.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters on April 24, 2023 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has brought “unimaginable suffering to that country while trampling on the U.N. Charter.”

“Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed and millions have been displaced,” she said, adding that billions of people around the world are feeling the brunt of higher energy prices and food insecurity because of the Kremlin’s ongoing conflict.

She added the war also has triggered “an unmitigated disaster for Russia too.”

Japan’s envoy also blasted Moscow’s war and demanded an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

“It is an irony, even a tragedy, that the Russian Federation, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, continues its unilateral aggression against Ukraine while hosting an open debate on effective multilateralism through the defense of the principle of the U.N. Charter,” said Ishikane Kimihiro, permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations.

“The unprovoked, ongoing aggression by Russia is nothing but an outright defiance of the principle of the U.N. Charter,” he added.



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