Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attacked the UN as an ineffective body unable to enforce its own principles. The Ukrainian leader called for Russia to lose its veto power on the Security Council (UNSC).
Speaking at a special session of the UNSC – the UN’s most powerful body – Zelensky said the organization had failed to uphold its values. “Ukrainian soldiers now are doing at the expense of their blood what the UN Security Council should do by its voting,” he argued. “They’re stopping aggression and upholding the principles of the UN Charter.”
He went on to call for Russia to be punished for invading Ukraine by removing Moscow’s veto power at the UNSC. “Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN when it comes to the defense of the sovereign border of nations.” Zelensky continued, “We should not wait for the aggression to be over. We need to act now. Our aspiration for peace should drive the reform.”
The Ukrainian leader added that removing Russia’s veto power was a “necessary step..because all efforts are vetoed by the aggressor.” The US, UK, France, China, and Russia are permanent members of the UNSC and can veto any resolution that comes to the floor of the body.
It is unusual for a leader of a country not on the UNSC, which Ukraine is not, to speak at a session. The Russian ambassador to the body objected to Zelensky speaking, but he was allowed to proceed with his address. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did not arrive at the session until the Ukrainian leader exited.
Zelensky went on to condemn the UN for failing to resolve the aggression. “We should recognize that the UN finds itself in a deadlock on the matters of aggression. Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN,” he added.
However, in the early months of the war, the UN and Turkey led a round of talks that nearly resulted in a deal where the Russian military would withdraw from Ukraine. Then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Kiev and pushed Zelensky to walk away from negotiations with Russia. Subsequently, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu explained why the talks failed. “There are countries within NATO that want the Ukraine war to continue. They see the continuation of the war as weakening Russia. They don’t care much about the situation in Ukraine,” Cavusoglu said.