UNITED NATIONS (AP) – Russia pleaded to the world on Saturday for its war in Ukraine, reiterating a series of grievances against its neighbor and the West to tell the United Nations General Assembly of world leaders that Moscow had no “no other choice” than to take military measures.
At the heart of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech was an assertion that the United States and its allies — not Russia, as the West maintains — are aggressively undermining the international system that the United States represents. UN.
“The future of the world is decided today,” he said, and “the question is whether or not it will be the kind of order with a hegemon at its head.”
His speech was an opportunity for Russia to respond to days of whistleblowing from the rostrum at the first annual gathering of presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and government ministers.
The war largely dominated the discussion, with many countries lashing out at Russia for its February 24 invasion, nuclear threats, allegations of atrocities and war crimes, and stepping up its campaign by mobilizing some of its reserves while the congregation was meeting.
The speech came amid a vote in Russian-occupied parts of eastern and southern Ukraine on whether to join Russia. Moscow calls the referendums self-determination, but Kyiv and its Western allies see them as a Kremlin-orchestrated sham with an early conclusion.
Some observers believe the expected outcome could serve as a pretext for Russian President Vladimir Putin to possibly escalate the war further.
“We can expect President Putin to view any Ukrainian effort to liberate this land as an attack on so-called ‘Russian territory,'” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Thursday before the Security Council of the UN.
Russia has offered a number of explanations for what it calls a “special military operation”. Among them: the risks to Russia from what it sees as a hostile government in Kyiv and a NATO alliance that has expanded eastward over the years; restore what Russia sees as its historical territorial claims on the country; and to protect Russians living in Ukraine – particularly in the eastern Donbass region – from what Moscow sees as oppression by the Ukrainian government.
“Western countries’ inability to negotiate and the Kyiv regime’s continued war against their own people have left us with no choice” but to recognize two separatist regions of Ukraine as independent and then send troops there. troops, Lavrov said.
The aim was “to eliminate the threats to our security, which NATO has constantly created in Ukraine”, he explained.
As Ukraine recently drove Russian troops out of parts of the northeast, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned the assembly earlier this week that he believed Moscow wanted to spend the winter preparing for a new offensive, or at least to prepare fortifications while mobilizing more troops.
Either way, he said his forces would eventually oust Russian troops from all over Ukraine.
“We can do it by force of arms. But we need time,” said Zelenskyy, the only leader allowed to address the assembly by video this year.
The two countries also clashed this week in the Security Council, in a rare moment when Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, were in the same room – although they kept their distance.
The General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in March to deplore Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, call for the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces and urge the protection of millions of civilians. The following month, members agreed by a smaller margin to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
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