Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky on Wednesday told an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council that it must not be held “hostage” to Russia, pleading with its members to intervene to stop Moscow’s mass strikes against his people.
Zelensky said the recent wave of missile strikes on civilian populations and energy infrastructure is an “obvious crime against humanity” and urged the Security Council to sideline Russia — which can veto any action from the council — in order to halt the Kremlin’s assault.
“We have to restore justice inside the U.N. structure,” Zelensky said. “This is a dead end when the instigator of this war, the party responsible for this terror, is blocking any attempt on behalf of the Security Council to execute its mandate.”
Zelensky said the council must execute Chapter 7 of the council’s charter, which says the international body can take steps to restore international peace and security.
Russia continued to bombard civilian residences and critical energy infrastructure on Wednesday, part of a series of attacks that has led to widespread blackouts ahead of winter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin first launched the mass strikes in October after an explosion on a bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean peninsula. But Moscow’s troops have continued to suffer losses on the battlefield, most recently their retreat from the southern city of Kherson.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Putin is “determined to reduce Ukraine’s energy facilities to rubble.”
“Putin’s motive could not be more clear and more cold-blooded,” she said at Wednesday’s emergency meeting. “He is clearly, clearly weaponizing winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people. He has decided if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country into submission.”
Thomas-Greenfield called for a “mechanism of accountability” to hold Russia responsible for the terror it was inflicting on the people of Ukraine and also asked other U.N. member nations to fund Ukraine as it repairs infrastructure.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council cannot pass measures or resolutions vetoed by one of the five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.
Russia has used its veto power on the Security Council to block resolutions including one that would have condemned Putin’s annexation of four territories in Ukraine and another condemning the Feb. 24 invasion.
Zelensky has called to expel Russia from the council before.
Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., said at Wednesday’s meeting that the mass strikes are being carried out to impede Ukrainian military activity, alleging Ukrainian troops were engaging in war crimes.
Nebenzya also accused Western nations of supplying a “reckless flow” of weapons and arms to Ukraine to fuel a proxy war, saying their ultimate goal was to weaken Russia.
“We are conducting strikes against infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and the reckless appeals of Kyiv to [damage] Russia,” he said.
“Weakening the military capacity of the Ukrainian army … will be carried out by military means until [Ukraine] adopts a realistic position.”