Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls for punishment of Russia including loss of UN veto

NEW YORK: Ukraine demanded the United Nations punish Russia for its invasion and strip it of its security council veto as a showdown loomed on Thursday (Sep 22) when the UN Security Council meets over atrocities committed in Ukraine.

The Security Council meeting comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine, moved to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy called for a special United Nations tribunal to impose “just punishment” on Russia and for Moscow to be stripped of its Security Council veto.

The council has been unable to take any meaningful action on Ukraine because Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member along with the United States, France, Britain and China. The meeting on Thursday will be at least the 20th time the Security Council has met on Ukraine this year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face off his Ukrainian and Western counterparts, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan brief the 15-member Security Council.

Ukraine, the United States and others have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. Russia denies targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation,” describing accusations of human rights abuses as a smear campaign.

“EAST-WEST CLASH”

On Wednesday, Putin ordered Moscow’s first wartime mobilisation since World War Two, with plans to immediately start conscripting some 300,000 troops to fight on the frontline.

He cast the Ukraine invasion, that began in February and has left thousands dead, displaced millions and reduced towns to rubble, as a defining East-West clash

Russia’s mobilisation may be the riskiest domestic political move of Putin’s two decades in power, and followed months of Kremlin promises it would do no such thing and comes at a time when Russia has been facing a string of battlefield failures.

Concern over being conscripted saw flights out of Russia quickly sell out, and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for mass demonstrations against the mobilisation.

Independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info said nearly 1,400 people in 38 Russian cities had been detained in protests by Wednesday evening.

Putin ordered the military draft in a televised address in which he also announced moves to annex four Ukrainian provinces and threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, declaring: “It’s not a bluff”.

Pro-Russian figures announced referendums for Sep 23 to 27 in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing around 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory.