UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister clashed with the United States and Ukraine’s supporters at a U.N. meeting Monday where Moscow ruled out any peace plan backed by Kyiv and the West, and China warned that further global chaos could impact the slowing global economy.
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, claimed that Ukrainian forces have been “a complete failure” on the battlefield and are “incapable” of defeating or weakening Russia.
He told the U.N. Security Council that Moscow is always ready to negotiate peace, but he claimed peace plans presented by Ukraine and its Western “masters” are “only used as cover to continue war and continue getting money from Western taxpayers.”
“All of these formulas are a road to nowhere, and the sooner Washington, London, Paris and Brussels realize this the better for Ukraine and the West,” he said, warning that their “crusade against Russia has already created new, clear, reputational and existential risks.”
U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood dismissed Lavrov's claims as “just blatant disinformation” and countered that it was Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine that started the war, and it is President Vladimir Putin 's “single-minded pursuit of the obliteration of Ukraine and subjugation of its people that is prolonging it.”
“Russia’s imperialist designs are obvious," and “for Russia, anything other than capitulation — total capitulation by Ukraine is the only solution, and that's just not acceptable to the international community,” Wood said. stressing that the war could end tomorrow if Moscow withdrew hundreds of thousands of troops in Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory.
Russia called the council meeting to again sharply criticize Western military aid to Ukraine. Just before it started, diplomats from more than 40 countries surrounded Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya who read a joint statement underscoring Russia’s “hypocrisy” in criticizing lawful arms transfers to help Ukraine defend itself.
Ukraine’s supporters called Monday's meeting another Russian attempt “to distract from its war of aggression,” and they condemned military support to Moscow — drones from Iran and ballistic missiles from North Korea — in violation of U.N. sanctions, as well as military equipment from Belarus.
The council heard many calls for stepped up peace efforts, and there was growing concern from Russia’s ally, China, about the increasing threat to global security from the ongoing war in Ukraine at the same time that Israel and Hamas are at war in Gaza following the militant group’s surprise attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
“We must spare no effort to stem the spillover of the (Ukraine) crisis at a time when the Palestinian-Israeli conflict drags on, and some hotspot issues are at the risk of flaring up,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said. “The world cannot afford to see further spreading of geopolitical clashes at the same time the global economy is slowing down.”
Zhang told the council “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected,” which Ukraine has insisted on and which Russia has violated by annexing four Ukrainian regions. But the Chinese ambassador criticized Ukraine for seeking to join NATO and warned Kyiv, without naming Russia, that this would deepen Moscow’s security concerns.
Zhang urged the resumption of direct Russia-Ukraine negotiations as soon as possible. He did not mention the peace plan China issued in February 2023 that called for a ceasefire, negotiations and an end to sanctions against Russia but he did focus on the war’s disruption to the world economy.
“The negative impacts of the Ukraine crisis and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have added snow to the icy cold global economy,” Zhang said. “Countries with significant influence should … refrain from politicizing, instrumentalizing or weaponizing the world economy, and should instead work together to maintain global food, energy and financial security as well as the stability and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains.”
China was the third speaker from the 15-member council and Lavrov left immediately after Zhang spoke, giving his seat to a deputy. Lavrov didn't hear Wood but he did hear Malta's U.N. Ambassador Vanessa Frazier who echoed the U.S. call for Russia to withdraw its forces and accused Moscow of violating its duty to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council's primary mission.
“Today's meeting is yet another attempt to justify the unjustifiable and seek to provide a narrative where the victim is the aggressor and the aggressor the victim,” Frazier said, decrying the killing of 10,200 Ukrainian civilians, including 575 children, and injuries to more than 19,300 others in Russian attacks since the war began, according to the U.N. human rights office.