As the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters a 6th day, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has blamed the United States and its allies in collusion with what he referred to as a neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv. Ukraine and the West say Russia is launching unprovoked attacks on Ukrainian cities.
Just as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov began to speak, most of the people in the U.N. Human Rights Council chamber rose and collectively left the room. Lavrov was unaware of it because, as he said, he was compelled to address the council by video conference instead of in person as he had intended.
Lavrov angrily accused the European Union of impinging on his right to freedom of movement by preventing him from flying over their air space to Geneva. He then spent the next 20 minutes blasting the policy of the “collective West” led by Washington that, he claimed has led to the Kyiv regime going to war with its own people since 2014.
He accused the Ukrainian regime of criminal actions and of unleashing an eight-year war against Russian and Russian-speaking citizens in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
These remarks stand in stark contrast with the view of most of the international community. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin could not remain indifferent to their fate. So, he decided to recognize the regions’ independence and launch what he called a special military operation to protect the inhabitants.
That justification for the invasion was voiced earlier by Putin himself. It has been dismissed as part of a surreal disinformation campaign by most Western governments, which have responded to the invasion with unprecedented sanctions. Lavrov lashed out against those as well. He spoke through an interpreter.
“The West has clearly lost control of itself in its desire to vent its anger on Russia and has gone to the extent of destroying all the institutions and rules it has created, including the inviolability of property…The sovereign equality of states is a key principle of the U.N. Charter. It fully applies to the work of the Human Rights Council.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres disagrees with that reading of the U.N. Charter. In response to Putin’s actions, he said the so-called “independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are violations of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Guterres said they were inconsistent with the principles of the charter of the United Nations
While Lavrov was speaking, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, Shabia Mantoo, said the number of Ukrainian refugees was exponentially increasing.
“We have now over 660,000 refugees who have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries in the past six days alone. This is according to the latest data made available by governments and compiled by the UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency. At this rate, the situation looks set to become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century, and UNHCR is mobilizing resources to respond as quickly and effectively as possible.”
Mantoo said most refugees have fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia, while some have moved toward other European countries. She noted a sizeable number has gone to the Russian Federation, adding national authorities are responsible for their care.