Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday of being a “terrorist” leading a “terrorist state” and urged Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations.
In a hypothetical address to the United Nations Security Council, Zelensky urged the United Nations to establish an international tribunal to investigate “the actions of the Russian occupiers on Ukrainian territory” and hold the country accountable.
“We need to act urgently to do everything to make Russia stop the killing spree,” Zelensky said, warning that Russia’s “terrorist activity” would spread to other European countries and Asia, with the Baltic states, Poland, Moldova and Kazakhstan identified.
“Putin has become a terrorist,” he said. “Daily terrorist acts, without weekends. They act every day as terrorists.”
Urging Russia’s expulsion from the 193-member United Nations, Zelensky cited Article 6 of the UN Charter which states that any member who “consistently violates the principles set forth in this Charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.”
However, the expulsion of Russia is almost impossible. That’s because Russia, as a permanent member of the council, would be able to veto any attempt to overthrow it.
Ukraine has called a council meeting after Russia’s latest escalation in attacks, including Monday’s gunfire strike on a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchug that Zelensky said killed at least 18 people and wounded 30.
He said “dozens are missing” and fragments including hands and legs were found, adding that unfortunately there may be more casualties.
The Ukrainian leader began his speech by listing the Russian attacks in recent days, and mentioned the first names and ages of many of the victims.
He ended his speech by asking the 15 members of the Security Council and others in the room to stand in silence in memory of the “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian children and adults who died in the war.
All members rose, including Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky.
When he later took the floor, Polyansky protested that Zelensky be given a second chance to address the Security Council, a decision by the Albanian who holds the council presidency this month.
The Russian envoy said the Ukrainian president’s video speech violates the council’s tradition and current practice that leaders who wish to speak to the council must be present in the hall.
“The UN Security Council should not turn into a platform for a remote PR campaign from President Zelensky in order to get more arms from participants at the NATO summit” that begins on Wednesday in Madrid, Polyansky said.
He claimed that there was no Russian attack on the Kremenchug shopping center, saying that Russian precision weapons hit the hangars at the Kremenchug Road Machinery Factory with weapons and ammunition from the United States and Europe destined for Ukrainian forces in eastern Donbass.
The shopping center was some distance away, but the explosion of ammunition “caused a fire that then spread to the shopping center,” Polyansky said.
The Russian envoy told Western countries that by supplying arms to Ukraine, they are prolonging the time when Ukraine’s leaders will sit at the negotiating table with a pragmatic stance rather than slogans.
“We started a special military operation to stop the bombing of Donbass by Ukraine and even the territory of this country, which turned into anti-Russian by order of a number of Western countries, as well as its national leadership ceased to pose a threat to Russia or to the population of southern and southeastern Ukraine. Until these goals are achieved, they will continue Our operation.”
US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills, like many other Western ambassadors, accused Russia of destroying the shopping center, saying the attack “fits a cruel pattern, in which the Russian military kills civilians and destroys civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”
He stressed that there is ample evidence publicly available “that only Russia and Russia” were responsible for this and other attacks.