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President of Ukraine speaks at UN Security Council on war

TANZANIA – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the UN Security Council for the first time on Tuesday, at a meeting that is sure to focus on what appear to be widespread premeditated killings of civilians by Russian forces.

The bodies, discovered after Russian forces withdrew from a town on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, have sparked global outrage and fierce denials by the Russian government that it was responsible.

The UK, which holds the Council presidency this month, announced late Monday that Zelenskyy would address the open session called for Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy will address the United Nations’ most powerful body virtually after receiving briefings from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, his political boss Rosemary DiCarlo and UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths, who is trying to agree an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and met with senior Russian officials in Moscow on Monday and will travel to Ukraine shortly.

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Videos and photos of streets in the city of Bucha littered with the bodies of what appear to be civilians, some with their hands tied behind their backs, have prompted global outrage, calls for tougher sanctions on Russia and its suspension from the main human rights organization the UN body, the Human Rights Council.

According to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, the bodies of 410 civilians from Bucha and other cities in the Kyiv region recently recaptured by Russian troops have been removed.

Associated Press journalists have reported seeing dozens of bodies at various locations in Bucha, northwest of the capital. The bodies included a group of nine people in civilian clothes who appeared to have been shot at point-blank range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs. A bag of spilled groceries lay next to one of the dead.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Monday accused Ukraine and the West of a “false flag attempt” to blame Russian troops for the atrocities in Bucha, which he says were committed by Ukrainian nationalists. He called the video of bodies lying in the streets “a gross fake” and insisted that “not a single local person suffered from violent actions” during the period Bucha was under Russian control.

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At a press conference on March 31, the Russian ambassador showed short video footage of the smiling mayor of Bucha, who described the withdrawal of Russian forces as a victory for the Ukrainian army and never mentioned “mass atrocities, dead bodies, killings, graves or anything like that.” He showed also footage from Ukrainian television dated April 2 showing Ukrainian soldiers entering Bucha “without bodies on the streets”.

He said Russia will present more “factual evidence” to the Security Council on Tuesday.

Nebenzia was asked if he believed videos of Ukrainian family members talking about the deaths of loved ones killed by Russian troops were also fake. He replied, “This is warfare. Everything happens in war. You can’t rule out the possibility of civilians dying. That’s a sad fact of life.”

But he again accused the Bucha videos of being “staged”.

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward called the images from Bucha “harrowing, appalling, probable evidence of war crimes and possible genocide” and said the Security Council “needed to think about how we deal with it”.

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The council remains paralyzed from taking action against Ukraine because Russia, as one of its five permanent members, has veto powers. But the 193-member General Assembly, which has no veto, has condemned the invasion of Russia and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of Russian forces and protection of civilians.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced Monday that the United States will soon table a General Assembly resolution that would suspend Russia from the UN’s lead human rights body, the 57-nation Human Rights Council, and said there were mounting signs for committing war crimes Ukraine. The Council is based in Geneva, but its members are elected by the 193-nation General Assembly.

Thomas-Greenfield told NPR late Monday that the US plans to seek a vote “as soon as possible this week and possibly as early as Thursday.”

Any resolution to suspend Russia’s membership rights would require the support of two-thirds of member countries voting “yes” or “no.” Assembly resolutions – unlike Security Council resolutions – are not legally binding, but they have influence because they reflect global opinion.

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Russia had requested an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss Bucha on Monday afternoon, but Woodward told reporters that with the Council meeting already scheduled for Tuesday, “we didn’t see a good reason to hold two meetings in a row on Ukraine.”

Nebenzia was asked if the US-led effort to ban Russia from the Human Rights Council and the UK’s refusal to hold an emergency Security Council meeting on Monday at Russia’s request would affect talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

“This will not facilitate, encourage or help what is happening between the Russian and Ukrainian peace talks,” Nebenzia said.

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https://www.ksat.com/news/world/2022/04/05/ukraines-president-to-address-un-security-council-on-war/ President of Ukraine speaks at UN Security Council on war

Andrew Schnitker

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