© Reuters FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a ceremony to receive letters of appointment from newly appointed foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
By Humaira Pamuk and Michelle Nichols
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet his Ukrainian and Western counterparts on Thursday, including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, as the UN Security Council meets over the atrocities in Ukraine.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan will address the 15 members of the UN General Assembly at the annual meeting of world leaders.
In the year On February 24, while the Security Council was meeting in New York, Russia invaded Ukraine.
“A crime has been committed against Ukraine and we demand a fair punishment,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video on Wednesday. The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the honor of our women and men.
Ukraine, the US and others have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. Russia has dismissed the allegations of human rights abuses as a smear campaign, saying it has targeted civilians during what it calls a “special military operation”.
The Security Council meeting comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine to annex Ukrainian territories and threaten to use nuclear weapons.
The council has been unable to take any meaningful action against Ukraine because Russia is a permanent veto-voting member along with the United States, France, Britain and China. Thursday’s meeting will be at least the 20th time the Security Council has met in Ukraine this year.
After Guterres and Khan make a brief statement, the 15 council members will speak, followed by Ukraine, several European countries, Belarus and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
In July, Lavrov walked out of a Group of 20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Indonesia after calling for an end to the war and criticizing the conflict that has fueled the global food crisis. Lavrov condemned the West for its “frenzied criticism”.
Russia’s seat on the UN Security Council is unlikely to be vacant during the meeting, but it is unclear how long Lavrov may remain on the council.
Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters last month that his office was investigating nearly 26,000 cases of suspected war crimes after Russia’s February 24 invasion and had indicted 135 people.
Ukrainian officials said last week they found hundreds of bodies buried in a region near the northeastern city of Izium that was seized from Russian forces, which Zelensky accused of war crimes by the invaders.
The head of the pro-Russian administration, which left the area a week ago, accused Ukrainians of committing atrocities in Izium.
This week, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that 5,916 civilians have been killed and 8,616 injured in Ukraine since the conflict began.