Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday demanded that the United Nations Security Council punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and curb its influence on the key U.N. panel — or else dissolve itself entirely and admit it is powerless to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody war.
“Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It’s not there,” Zelenskyy, speaking through a translator, said in a virtual address before the council, of which Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member.
“Where is the peace? Where are those guarantees that the United Nations needs to guarantee?” he said. “It is obvious that the key institution of the world — which must ensure the coercion of any aggressor to peace — simply cannot work effectively.”
Zelenskyy’s blistering remarks came amid fresh international outrage over the uncovering of atrocities in Bucha, a suburb outside the capital city of Kyiv, as Russian forces continued their retreat from northern Ukraine over the weekend. Ukrainian officials have described the invaders’ actions there as genocide.
On Tuesday, Zelenskyy called upon the Security Council to “show all the other potential war criminals in the world how they will be punished,” adding: “If the biggest one is punished, then everyone is punished.”
Zelenskyy also insisted that the Security Council take steps to limit Russia’s veto power over the council’s affairs. In Russia, he said, “we are dealing with a state that is turning the veto [of] the U.N. Security Council into the right to die. This undermines the whole architecture of our global security.”
If the U.N. is unprepared to address the Russian threat, “the United Nations can be simply closed,” Zelenskyy said. “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close the U.N.? Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.”
The Charter of the United Nations — the intergovernmental organization’s founding document, signed in San Francisco in 1945 — “must be restored immediately,” Zelenskyy said, and the broader “U.N. system must be reformed immediately, so that the veto is not the right to die.”
Zelenskyy went on to present the Security Council with two choices to help facilitate peace in Ukraine. First, revoke Russia’s council membership “so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war.” Second, “please show how we can reform or change.”
Alternatively, Zelenskyy said, “the next option would be, dissolve yourself altogether” and acknowledge that “there is nothing that you can do besides conversation.”