April 2023: Sloviansk – 15 civilians killed, including a two-year-old boy; Uman – 22 killed, 5 kids; Kostiantynivka – 6 killed; Dnipro – 2 killed, a mother and a three-year-old girl. These people’s lives were cut short by Russian artillery and missile strikes at a time when Russia was not only waging a full-scale war against Ukraine but also heading the world’s key security institution – the UN Security Council.
The UN Security Council is an international institution responsible for international peace and security. It was established after the victory over Nazism in World War II. As the self-proclaimed successor to the Soviet Union, Russia still holds a seat on the UN Security Council as its full member.
STEP INTO THE ABYSS
In April, according to the organization’s charter, Russia started its the presidency of the UN Security Council for a month. A country that destroys peaceful cities of an independent European state, whose army commits grave war crimes, killing and torturing civilians and abducting children. Despite all the warnings and appeals of the Ukrainian and international community, on 1 April, Russia became the new head of the organization. Predictably, having gained even more power, Russia has used it to whitewash its image and try to increase its influence on Western countries through manipulation, distortion of facts, and spreading propaganda.
RUSSIA’S MONTH AT THE UN
During the month of its presidency, Russia convened two meetings of the Security Council. The first meeting was dedicated to abducted Ukrainian children. At the meeting, Russia tried to explain its “good” and “legal” motives by inviting Maria Lvova-Belova, the main organiser of child deportations and Russian Ombudsperson for Children’s Rights, who is under an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court along with President Putin. The British delegation blocked the broadcast of this speech in general and stated: “If Maria Lvova-Belova wants to talk about her actions, she can do so in The Hague“. The meeting was opposed by 49 UN member states and the EU as a separate entity.
Nevertheless, a few days later, Russia convened a meeting of the UN Security Council again, and attempted to block the export of Western weapons to Ukraine. Russian ambassadors tried to spread their favourite fake thesis that large amounts of Western military aid were being sold by Ukraine and falling into the hands of criminals. This meeting also outraged most of the participating countries. The US representative to the UN said: “Today’s meeting is a thinly veiled attempt by the Russian Federation to portray itself as a responsible participant in the arms control process, an attempt to obscure the reality that it has launched an unjustified armed invasion of a neighbouring country.”
THE YEAR OF TERROR
Unfortunately, none of the topics raised by Russia and its attempts to weaken international support for Ukraine this month has become a trigger for its expulsion from the organisation. During the year of war, the army and authorities of the Russian Federation have committed a number of crimes against humanity that can be equated to genocide (for example, the PACE recognises the forced deportation of children as a modern manifestation of genocide). The UN Commission concluded that Russia has committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights, in addition to numerous war crimes.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. The Declaration was the result of the direct experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of the inalienable rights to which all human beings are entitled.
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was adopted in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ensure that signatory countries (members of the Council of Europe) respect and ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms on their territory. Ukraine ratified the Convention on 17 July 1997, and it entered into force on 11 September of the same year.
War crimes are serious violations of international humanitarian law (violations of the laws and customs of war), which are subject to criminal liability of individuals at the national and international levels.
Killing of civilians. According only to the UN, at least 8,709 civilians died because of Russian aggression between 24 February 2022 and 1 May. The actual number may be dozens, if not hundreds, of times higher, but it is impossible to know due to the lack of data from the areas of active hostilities and the temporarily occupied territories. The Russian army deliberately kills Ukrainian civilians, as evidenced by the consequences of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, which mostly target residential buildings and squares, and sometimes even places where humanitarian aid is distributed.
Murder of prisoners of war. The execution of a prisoner of war is a serious war crime that has become a common practice in Russia. Beheadings or executions of prisoners of war by Russians are not rare cases. According to Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Ombudsman, the Office of the Ukrainian Ombudsman has received dozens of videos of alleged executions of Ukrainian soldiers by Russian soldiers. Some of the most horrific cases of executions and dismemberment of Ukrainian soldiers have recently come to light.
Taking children as hostages and their deporting. According to the National Information Bureau, on 24 February, Russia abducted 19,393 children, and only 364 were returned home. It was because of these actions that the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russian Ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova. On 27 April, in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution condemning the forced deportation of Ukrainian children. The facts of deportation of children from Ukraine by the Russian authorities and their forced “Russification” are elements of genocide.
The Russian Federation is a country that has been committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on the territory of a sovereign state for more than a year – its kills, abducts, rapes, and tortures. The logical consequence of such a policy would be complete international isolation and punishment for each perpetrator. However, the aggressor continues to be a member of the world’s key security institution, the UN Security Council, and even chairs it.
“Russia’s presidency has demonstrated that subject to Russian influence and manipulation by the terrorist state, the United Nations is no longer able to prevent war crimes and aggression. The logical next step is either Russia’s expulsion from the UN Security Council or the dissolution of the organization”, – said Serhii Kuzan, Chairman of the USCC.
Unfortunately, this failure cost Ukraine at least 130 innocent human lives. This is the price of a month of Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council.