Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov walks out of UN meeting after defending war in Ukraine
Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dramatically walked out of a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday after his UK counterpart accused Moscow of “a catalogue of dishonesty and disinformation” over the war in Ukraine.
Mr Lavrov, who arrived late to the meeting and left after addressing the council, baselessly claimed Kyiv and the west had sparked Russia’s war of aggression.
“What’s particularly cynical is the position of states pumping Ukraine full of weapons, training their soldiers,” he said.
Mr Lavrov claimed, without evidence, that the west was seeking to “drag out the fighting as long as possible in spite of the victims in order to wear down and weaken Russia”.
He sought to justify Russia’s invasion by making claims without merit that “radical forces” and “neo-Nazis” had been ruling Ukraine since 2014 “as a result of an armed coup with direct support of western countries”.
This meant that Moscow’s decision to conduct the “special military operation was inevitable”, he added.
There is no evidence to support any Mr Lavrov’s claims.
Vladimir Putin ordered a “partial mobilisation” in Russia on Wednesday after Ukrainian counteroffensives saw his forces lose swathes of territory in the Kharkiv region.
He also confirmed that the “liberated territories” in Ukraine that were occupied by his forces would hold referenda on joining Russia, paving the way for a potential nuclear attack on the grounds that Ukrainian forces are attacking Russian territory.
Mr Putin on Wednesday threatened to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, saying his country would use “all the means at our disposal” to protect itself.
Speaking after Mr Lavrov, Britain’s foreign secretary James Cleverly condemned Mr Lavrov’s “catalogue of distortions, dishonesty and disinformation”.
“He’s left the chamber, I’m not surprised. I don’t think Mr Lavrov wants to hear the collective condemnation of this council.”
Elsewhere, Mr Cleverly called on UN countries to reject the “charade” of referenda being proposed by Moscow.
He said: “Every day the devastating consequences of Russia’s invasion become more clear.
“We see the mounting evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians, including indiscriminate shelling and targeted attacks on over 200 medical facilities and 40 educational institutions and horrific acts of sexual violence.”
The Security Council meeting on atrocities committed in Ukraine is taking place during the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and its forces have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure.
At the meeting, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned Mr Putin that talk of a nuclear attack was “totally unacceptable” and that so-called referenda in areas under Russian control effectively amounted to annexation.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken earlier told the meeting that “one man chose this war, one man can end it”.
“If Russia stops fighting, the war ends, but if Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends,” he said.