trib logo

Meanwhile at the UN: Staunch rhetorical support for Ukraine sovereignty

Russia was the only country to veto the non-binding resolution voted during Friday's United Nations Security Council meeting.
Special to

By John J. Metzler, February 28, 2024

In a powerful vote of confidence for Ukraine’s sovereignty and continuing independence, both the UN Security Council and General Assembly met to show political strong support for the embattled country, two years after the 2022 Russian invasion.

Speaking before the Security Council, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “Two years on, and a decade since Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea…the war in Ukraine remains an open wound at the heart of Europe.”

He stressed poignantly, “It is high time for peace, a just peace.”

Addressing a packed and tense meeting of the fifteen-member Council, Guterres lamented, “Our world is at a chaotic moment.” The Secretary General voiced deep concern that the danger of the conflict escalating and expanding “is very real.”

“No one wants peace more than the Ukrainian people,” advised French Foreign Minister Stephane Séjourné,

Speaking powerfully and succinctly United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron intoned, that two years since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign UN Member, “My question to Putin is simple: Why?” “How many ridiculous explanations have we now had for the invasion?” Cameron added, “Mr. Putin believes he can take territories, redraw borders, exercise force to build his empire, wondering if the Council will “let this stand.”

Echoing Churchillian sentiments, David Cameron stressed, “We must not falter.  We must stand firm.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield followed with a stinging rebuke of Russia, “Today, despite President Putin’s best efforts, the world continues to bear witness to Russian brutality, Russian hypocrisy and Russian cruelty.” She said the “senseless war” has worsened global food insecurity, impacted global energy, caused incalculable damage to the environment, and undermined the global non-proliferation regime.

The American Ambassador stated bluntly, “Let us be exceedingly clear here: If Russia puts down its weapons today, the war will end; if Ukraine puts down its weapons, Ukraine would be over.”

Related NY Times: Yes, it’s true that CIA is fighting Russia via Ukraine, February 26, 2024

Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia counterattacked rhetorically stating, “In this proxy war…Ukraine is losing.” Meanwhile he claimed, the European Union has become a “satellite of the U.S.”

Earlier in a highly unusual move at the start of the meeting, Russia’s ambassador interjected a Point of Order claiming “the list of speakers is crowded with non-members of the Council calling themselves the Foreign Ministers of European Union countries. However, in that bloc, with rare exceptions, there are no independent national foreign policies.” Accordingly, Moscow’s envoy claimed baselessly, “there are no Foreign Ministers, just officials who pretend to be such.  The bloc’s entire foreign policy is in the hands of Brussels, which in turn is in the hands of Washington, D.C.”  (sic)

Such political jousting echoed the historic Cold War confrontations at the UN. Nonetheless there’s a widening debate in the United States Congress which is wary over what appears to be a bank check military commitment to Kyiv. And viewing the parallel information war, the UK Foreign Secretary’s comments were clearly aimed at assuaging Washington opinion as much as criticizing the Kremlin.

But it was the voice of Free Ukraine which rose above the political fracas; Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, stating, “Russia’s name “is synonymous with aggression, war crimes and barbarism.” Minister Kuleba went on to say stemming first and foremost from its presence in this chamber’s seat, the Russian Federation is occupying the place of the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, and the legal transfer of its Council seat never occurred.

He stressed “This is an example of how a small fraud led to a global catastrophe.” He advised “We continue to insist that Russia has no legal right to be present at this table, and the future reform should correct this historic mistake that led to deadly consequences.”

Thus far the dire cost of conflict; many thousands killed on all sides, over 6 million Ukrainian refugees and 4 million Ukrainians internally displaced, with 14.5 million people inside Ukraine needing urgent humanitarian assistance.

While there’s strong political support from the United States and Canada, European Union countries, parts of Latin America and East Asian status such as South Korea and Japan, notable was the quiet absence of many African and non-aligned countries and Russia’s political groupies.

In media comments outside the Security Council, Foreign Minister Kuleba was flanked by over fifty Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers showing solidarity with his embattled Eastern European country battered by Moscow’s military bludgeon. This truly impressive commitment was nearly unprecedented in the UN.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameroon told correspondents that Ukraine matters; “If we somehow let Putin eke out a win of course that’s bad for European security, disastrous for Ukraine's security, but it’s also bad for American security.” He added, such a win “would be celebrated in the Kremlin but celebrated by the Chinese leadership too.”

“None of us will allow our Ukraine to end,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during an separate address in the capital Kyiv.

John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]
seccouncukr by John Minchillo is licensed under Screen Grab AP

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

This website uses essential cookies for site operation. We would also like to set optional cookies to help us improve our site and to analyze web traffic, as described in the Privacy Compliance. You may accept or reject the use of optional cookies by clicking the Accept or Reject button.