Zelensky Urges UN To Boot Russia From Security Council In Fiery Speech

Topline
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on members of the United Nations to mete out “just punishment” against Russia and strip the country of its UN Security Council veto, part of an adamant speech as Ukraine seeks to roll back Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to world leaders via a video link as they attend the … [+] 77th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

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Key Facts

In a pre-recorded address to the UN General Assembly, Zelensky laid out several conditions for peace, including punishing Russia, protecting lives, restoring Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and letting Ukraine seek security guarantees from other countries.

Zelensky suggested creating an international “special tribunal” to punish Russia, and he proposed taking away Russia’s status as one of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members, which gives Russian diplomats the power to veto Security Council resolutions.

Zelensky endorsed plans to limit Russia’s oil and natural gas income by capping the price at which the country can sell petroleum, and suggested imposing some visa restrictions on Russians, arguing “citizens of the aggressor state shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy tourism or shopping in the territory of those who value peace.”

He also argued his military “can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory … with the force of arms, but we need time,” a point Zelensky has raised repeatedly that effectively pushes back on the idea of conceding Russian-occupied territory in exchange for peace.

Tangent
Zelensky said his country “wants peace,” and claimed his administration had 88 rounds of negotiations with Russia from when he took office in 2019 to the start of the invasion.

Crucial Quote
“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” Zelensky said in his pre-recorded speech.

Contra
Zelensky has suggested removing Russia as a Security Council permanent member in the past, but the idea could face long odds. The most straightforward ways of removing Russia from the body would involve either amending the United Nations charter or expelling the country from the UN entirely, both of which would be subject to Russia’s veto power. There is no method to overrule a veto.

Key Background
World leaders convened in New York this week for the UN General Assembly’s session, and the war in Ukraine has featured prominently. In a speech earlier Wednesday, President Joe Biden called Russia’s invasion “needless” and called on other countries to show “unwavering” support for Ukraine. The session comes as Ukrainian forces press a counteroffensive to retake territory in the country’s east and south that was occupied by Russia early in the war. The eastern counteroffensive picked up crucial victories earlier this month, with Ukraine retaking parts of the Kharkiv region as Russian forces withdrew. But Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t shown an interest in stopping: On Wednesday, he announced plans to draft reservists into military service and suggested Russia may be willing to use its nuclear arsenal if there is a threat to its territorial integrity.

Surprising Fact
Putin didn’t travel to New York for this week’s UN General Assembly sessions, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to lead a Russian delegation.

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