Ukraine’s Zelensky questions why Russia still has place at UN ahead of New York address

Volodymyr Zelensky posed the question of why Russia and Vladimir Putin continued to have representation at the United Nations to world leaders ahead of his UN security council speech.

Mr Zelensky was speaking in the US after visiting wounded Ukrainian military members at a New York hospital shortly after arriving for his diplomatic tour on Monday.

“For us, it’s very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners. And if in the United Nations still – it’s a pity, but still – there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me. I think it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations,” he said.

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The Ukrainian president is likely to cross path with Russia’s top diplomat at the United Nations during the upcoming UN Security Council meeting.

On being asked if he will stay in the room to listen to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks at the meeting, Mr Zelensky said: “I don’t know how it will be, really”.

Mr Lavrov had called Mr Zelensky a “b*****d” and walked out after a round of condemnation and accusations of war crimes aimed at Russia in last year’s UNSC meeting.

“Such outrages remain unpunished because the United States and their allies with the connivance of international human rights institutes have been covering up the crimes of the Kyiv regime based on the policy of ‘Zelensky might be a b*****d, but he’s our b*****d’,” the foreign minister said.

He walked out after his speech and remained absent for most of the session having already arrived 90 minutes late – missing UN chief Antonio Guterres’s briefing.

The Ukrainian president had confronted the UN even before the war launched by neighbour Russia, who, as a Security Council member, is entrusted with maintaining international peace and security.

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In September last year, Mr Zelensky detailed the Russian atrocities in Ukraine and described a sweeping peace plan to end the war in his previous address to the UN General Assembly.

“How can we allow the Russian army somewhere on Ukrainian soil, knowing that they are committing such mass murder everywhere?” Mr Zelensky asked. “We cannot. We must protect life. The world must protect life.”

He also called on the international community to temporarily strip Russia of its UN powers, continue sanctions, and establish a special tribunal to oversee the peace process.

He lamented at the General Assembly in 2021 that the UN was a “retired superhero who’s long forgotten how great they once were”.

Mr Zelensky will be making a case for Ukraine’s protection and security assurances as the country continued to fight off a Russian full-scale invasion for nearly 600 days now. He will also seek help from Washington ahead of a looming winter.

The US Congress is currently mulling over president Joe Biden’s request to provide Ukraine with as much as $24bn more in military and humanitarian aid. Mr Zelensky will spend some time at the Capitol Hill on Thursday and then proceed to meet with Mr Biden at the White House.

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