Russia's Presidency of UN Security Council world's biggest April Fool - Ukraine
Ukraine is not happy that Russia is assuming the Presidency of the UN Security Council.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has described Russia's turn to assume presidency of the United Nations Security Council – which is charged with maintaining global peace and security, as “the world’s worst April Fool’s joke.”
The President of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, has been accused by the UN-backed International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes in connection with alleged war crimes concerning the deportation and “illegal transfer” of children from occupied Ukraine.
However, as a tradition of rotating the leadership of the UN Security Council, it is now time for Russia to take over the mantle. Presidency of the security council rotates alphabetically among its 15 member nations. The body is controlled by its five permanent members, including the US and Russia.
But Ukraine is not happy with the move and thinks that Russia has enough blood on her hand to lead the Security Council, saying “The country which systematically violates all fundamental rules of international security is presiding over a body whose only mission is to safeguard and protect international security.”
The UN diplomatic corps is well aware of the public skepticism about Russia leading the council while its troops occupy parts of Ukraine, a fellow UN member country. Few remember that Russia was last president of the council in February 2022 – during the run-up to its invasion of Ukraine.
A Security Council president is supposed to stay neutral. But in its new role, Russia can maneuver meetings on Ukraine and use the month to portray the US and other Western countries as making false accusations against Russia.
Still, Russia backers here at UNHQ meanwhile say they see historic parallels to the current situation, pointing out that the US, a permanent member of the Security Council, invaded Iraq in 2003 without the council’s approval.
At the end of the day, the problem “is not the Russian Presidency. It’s Russian behavior in Ukraine,” a Security Council diplomat told CNN.
Can Russia be kicked out?
Over the past year, Ukraine has questioned whether Russia has a right to its permanent seat at the council at all, pointing out at public meetings that Moscow received the chair of the former Soviet Union without any vote in the early 1990s.
But is it possible to boot Russia off the Council or even the entire UN over its actions in Ukraine?
The UN charter, the foundation of the organization, does not make it easy to eliminate a permanent member of the Council. A Russian veto can easily keep its representatives at the council’s horseshoe table forever.
“A country that flagrantly violates the UN charter and invades their smaller neighbor has no place on the UN Security Council. Unfortunately Russia is a permanent member of the Council and no international legal pathway exists to change that reality,” a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN told CNN.
All that can be done in the austere body really is to challenge what Russia says there – something that the US has vowed to do. “We continue to call out their lies and bring credible voices, data and facts on the ground,” the US spokesperson said.
The longer the war drags on, the more Russia’s position at the UN may come under pressure. But like many of the meetings here, rhetoric is the major weapon.
Written with information from CNN