UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and its allies planned to ramp up criticism of Russia for its war in Ukraine on Thursday and press other countries to join in their forceful condemnations of the conflict.
A day after President Joe Biden assailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin for what he called egregious violations of the U.N. Charter and international law, the U.S. will make the case at the U.N. Security Council that Russia should face further censure and isolation for its invasion, senior U.S. officials said.
The officials said Secretary of State Antony Blinken would confront his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at a council meeting with a litany of allegations of war crimes and other atrocities and call on countries that have yet to speak out forcefully against them as an affront to international order. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preview what they expect will be a 15-minute presentation by Blinken.
As the meeting began, there were already signs of a charged atmosphere around the council's famous horseshoe-shaped table.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wryly told reporters beforehand that planned to keep a “safe social distance” from Lavrov.
And as council staffers prepared to put a placard marking Ukraine's seat next to Russia's, Kuleba apparently raised objections — the placard was moved to another spot. Lavrov was not in the room at that point.
One official said Blinken would lay out what the Biden administration believes is a compelling case that the war has not only caused massive destruction to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people but exacerbated multiple other global crises, including potential famines and energy shortages, as well as distracted from efforts to improve international health, combat climate change and reduce poverty.
The official said Blinken will point to recent developments, including Russia’s mobilization of new troops, threats to use nuclear weapons and new efforts to annex parts of Ukraine. Blinken will also say that Security Council has a “special responsibility” and obligation to speak out against actions that threaten its credibility and relevance as the U.N.’s most powerful body, the official said.
Despite the campaign, however, the official said Blinken was under no illusion that the council would act against Russia, given its veto power as a permanent member. Instead, the official said the aim is to convince other members to impress upon Moscow the global damage that the war is causing and demand that it end.
The International Criminal Court opened an investigation in March into possible crimes amid the war and sent teams to gather evidence. Prosecutor Karim Khan told the council Thursday that he’s dispatching more ICC staffers next week to look into allegations emerging from eastern Ukraine.
Khan hasn’t yet announced any charges linked to the conflict, but he reiterated to the council that he believes there are reasonable grounds to think that crimes have been committed.
“The picture that I’ve seen so far is troubling indeed,” he said.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has been pushing for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute alleged war crimes.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s president laid out a detailed case against Russia’s invasion at the United Nations and demanded punishment from world leaders in a speech delivered just hours after Moscow made an extraordinary announcement that it would mobilize some reservists for the war effort.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed in a video address to world leaders that his forces would not stop until they had reclaimed all of Ukraine.
“We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms,” Zelenskyy said. “But we need time.”
Associated Press Photographer Mary Altaffer contributed. For more AP coverage of the U.N. General Assembly, visit https://apnews.com/hub/united-nations-general-assembly