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Russia, Ukraine face off at UN Security Council with rival tributes to dead

Russia and Ukraine faced off at the Un Security Council on Friday on the first anniversary of their war, with their confrontation even extending to dueling moments of silence for the dead

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AP United Nations
Russia and Ukraine faced off at the U.N. Security Council on Friday on the first anniversary of their war, with their confrontation even extending to dueling moments of silence for the dead.
The showdown began before the session formally began, with Russia's ambassador demanding to know why Ukraine sat at the top of the speakers list. Most dramatically, in the middle of the meeting, the two countries even tussled over tributes to the victims of the war.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that, finally, on this tragic day, when we mourn lives, and destinies broken by Russia, I kindly ask everyone to observe a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the aggression.
He rose to his feet. Everyone in the council chamber stood in silence.
Although Moscow and Kyiv keep precise numbers under wraps, Western estimates suggest hundreds of thousands of killed and wounded on both sides.
Even in a moment of respect for the war dead, Ukraine and Russia were at odds.
As soon as Kuleba sat down, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia asked for the floor, saying: We are getting to our feet to honor the memory of all victims of what has happened in Ukraine starting in 2014 all of those who perished.
Nebenzia's use of 2014 and double emphasis on the word all, were references to Russia's claims that the conflict with Ukraine began that year after Ukraine's Moscow-friendly president was driven from office by mass protests.
Russia responded by annexing Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and then threw its weight behind an insurgency in the mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine region known as Donbas that continues and which Putin has illegally annexed.
All lives are priceless, and that is why we're rising to honor the memory of them all, Nebenzia said, referring to Russians, pro-Russian Ukrainians in the east as well as Ukrainians elsewhere in the country.
Nebenzia and Russian diplomats then rose to their feet, and slowly, apparently after some thought, other members in the council chamber rose until everyone in the chamber was standing silently for about a minute.
Nebenzia accused Malta, which holds the council's rotating presidency, of giving Ukraine preference in choosing it to speak first just because it is part of your geopolitical project.
He also objected to foreign ministers of 14 European countries on the speakers list along with the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, saying they all have the same EU position and will bring no added value to the debate.
Malta's Foreign Minister Ian Borg responded that the European ministers flew to New York and asked to speak because they feel that their countries have been and are still being directly impacted by this war.
Kuleba told the council that Ukraine will resist as it has done so far, and Ukraine will win. And he declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to lose much sooner than he thinks.
Kuleba then delivered several messages to Russian officials and servicemen: You may think you will get away with what you did but you will end up on trial.
Kuleba urged countries everywhere to implement President Volodymry Zelenskyy's peace plan and the General Assembly resolution adopted Thursday with support from 141 countries demanding that his country's sovereignty and territorial integrity are upheld, as required by the U.N. Charter. The resolution also calls for a cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of all Russian forces from Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the meeting recalling his plea to the council for peace just before Russian troops and tanks crossed the border on Feb. 24, 2022, and his warning that war could be the worst since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only for Russia and Ukraine but potentially for the world economy all of which has proven true in the past year.
The U.N. chief lamented that peace has had no chance and war has ruled the day, unleashing widespread death, destruction and displacement and leaving 17.6 million Ukrainians, nearly 40% of the population, in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 25 2023 | 6:38 AM IST

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