Russia’s presidency of UN security council a ‘symbolic blow’, says Ukraine

A top Ukrainian official has criticised the “symbolic blow” of Russia assuming the rotating presidency of the United Nations security council.

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter on Saturday: “It’s not just a shame. It is another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations.”

Russia on Saturday took over the presidency of the UN’s top security body, which rotates every month.

Related: ‘Absurdity to a new level’ as Russia takes charge of UN security council

The last time Moscow held the post was in February 2022, when its troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reports.

On Friday the Kremlin said it planned to “exercise all its rights” in the role.

The US has urged Russia to “conduct itself professionally” when it assumes the role, saying there is no means to block Moscow from the post.

Yermak also hit out at Iran, whom Kyiv and its allies accuse of supplying Russia with arms, including hundreds of assault drones that have menaced Ukrainian infrastructure facilities. Tehran denies supplying Russia with weapons.

Referring to Iran’s Islamic Republic Day holiday, Yermak said: “It is very telling that on the holiday of one terror state – Iran, another terror state – Russia – begins to preside over the UN security council.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top security agency has notified a top Orthodox priest that he is suspected of justifying Russia’s aggression, which is a criminal offence.

Metropolitan Pavel, the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in the Ukrainian capital, has been summoned for questioning.

Photographs released by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) showed officers outside Pavel’s home on Saturday.

Pavel’s branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox church (UOC) was until recently formally tied to the Russian Orthodox church.

SBU agents raided his residence and prosecutors asked the court to put him under house arrest pending the investigation.

The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is owned by the Ukrainian government and the agency overseeing it notified the monks that it was terminating the lease and they had until Wednesday to leave.

Pavel and his fellow clergymen told worshipers on Wednesday that the monks would not leave pending the outcome of a lawsuit the UOC filed in a Kyiv court to stop the eviction.

During a hearing on Saturday, he rejected the security service’s claim that he condoned Russia’s invasion. Prosecutors asked to have him put under house arrest pending an investigation. The hearing was adjourned until Monday after the metropolitan said he was not feeling well.

The Ukrainian government has cracked down on the Ukrainian Orthodox church over its historic ties to the Russian Orthodox church, whose leader, Patriarch Kirill, has supported Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian Orthodox church has insisted that it’s loyal to Ukraine and has denounced the Russian invasion from the start. The church declared its independence from Moscow.

But Ukrainian security agencies have claimed that some in the UOC have maintained close ties with Moscow.