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Lavrov walks out of UN meeting as allies slam Russia over Ukraine war

‘We can’t — we don’t want to — allow President Putin to get away with it,’ Blinken said in remarks at Thursday’s meeting, held during the assembly’s high-level week. General of the United Nations.

The meeting came amid a week of escalating actions by Moscow, including an order to mobilize hundreds of thousands of troops and planned ‘fake referendums’ in occupied parts of Ukraine by Russia.

“The fact that President Putin has chosen this week, when most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire he has lit shows his utter contempt and contempt for the Charter of United Nations, the UN General Assembly and this Council,” Blinken said. .

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was absent from the chamber except for his own remarks, in which he dismissed widespread international condemnation and again blamed Kyiv for the invasion of Moscow. Several officials suggested that the top Russian diplomat left the room because he did not want to hear the condemnations.

A senior US State Department official told reporters on Thursday that “Russia really felt the hot breath of world opinion” at the meeting.

“I don’t think there was anyone in this Security Council chamber, from (Chinese Foreign Minister) Wang Yi to Tony Blinken, who comforted Vladimir Putin or Lavrov. Everyone said that this war must end,” the official said. said.

The official noted that Lavrov “didn’t appear until two minutes before his own speech – he had one of his underlings listen, insofar as they were listening – then he let you know within a minute and a half after speaking”.

They said the Russian official who sat in the room for most of the meeting – Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin – and his team “were pretty much impassive throughout”.

However, “there were faces of disbelief all around the table when (Lavrov) started reviving 2014 and calling Ukrainians Nazis and doing the classic mirror imagery of Putin, blaming the rest of the world for everything. that Russia itself is doing, including atrocities and human rights abuses, I mean, it was just ‘Alice through the looking glass,'” they said.

Blinken and others, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, highlighted the atrocities uncovered in Ukraine, the global impacts of the war on things like food security, and called on Russia to end its nuclear saber .

The top US diplomat said Vladimir Putin’s threat to use “every weapon system available” to Russia is “all the more threatening as Russia intends to annex large swaths of the Ukraine in the days to come”.

“When this is over, we can expect President Putin to claim any Ukrainian effort to liberate this land as an attack on so-called Russian territory,” Blinken explained. “It comes from a country which, in January of this year, in this chamber, joined the other permanent members of the Security Council in signing a declaration affirming that, and I quote, ‘nuclear war can never be won and must never be waged.’ Yet another example of how Russia is violating the commitments it made to this body, and yet another reason why no one should take Russia at its word today .”

“Every member of the Council must send a clear message that these irresponsible nuclear threats must end immediately,” he said.

Blinken said Russia’s efforts to annex more Ukrainian territory – which US officials say is the expected next step after referendums called this week by the Russian-backed leaders of the so-called Donetsk and People’s Republics of Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – are “another dangerous escalation and repudiation of diplomacy”.

“It is even more alarming when coupled with the screening operations that Russian forces have carried out in the parts of Ukraine that they control,” Blinken said. “It’s a diabolical strategy: violently uprooting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians; recruiting Russians to replace them; calling for a vote; and manipulating the results to show near-unanimous support for joining the Russian Federation. Straight out of the Crimea playbook.”

He again called for accountability for crimes uncovered in areas of Ukraine formerly occupied by Russia such as Bucha, Irpin, Izyum, where mass graves were discovered and survivors recounted acts of torture.

“These are not the acts of rogue units; they correspond to a clear pattern throughout the territory controlled by Russian forces,” Blinken said. “This is one of the many reasons why we support a series of national and international efforts to collect and examine the growing evidence of war crimes in Ukraine.”

Blinken reiterated that the United States would continue to support Ukraine and called on others to do the same.

“President Putin is making his choice. Now it’s up to all of our countries to make ours. Tell President Putin to stop the horror he started. Tell him to stop putting his interests above- above the interests of the rest of the world, including its own.” Tell him to stop bashing this Council and everything it stands for,” Blinken said.

“A man chose this war. And a man can end it,” he said. “Because if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Jenny Hansler contributed to this report.

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