Speaking at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded “accountability” for Russian “crimes” carried out during Moscow’s invasion of the country, as the war enters into its sixth week.
After pictures of corpses lying on the streets, signs of torture on dead bodies, and the discovery of mass graves in Bucha demonstrated widespread scenes of horror and devastation, Zelenskyy said at the UNSC, “The UN needs to act immediately, its system must be reformed immediately… There must be a fair representation of all regions in the Security Council. (The) Russian military must be brought to justice.”
Zelenskyy also demanded Russia’s expulsion from the UNSC, as it’s military power strengthens in the eastern and southern region. Urging the UNSC to ensure that its members adhere to the rules of international law, Zelenskyy accused Russian troops of carrying out extreme human rights violations, and for committing “the most terrible war crimes” since World War II.
Showing a horrific short video of burned, bloodied and mutilated bodies, including children, in Irpin, Dymerka, Mariupol and Bucha at the council meeting, Zelenskyy questioned the significance of the 15-member body that has failed to take any significant step to de-escalate the crisis.
On the other hand, Russia blamed the members for not allowing them in the meetings on April 2 and 3, and dismissed all claims that Russian forces had carried out such war crimes on civilians.
New Delhi’s Stand
On Tuesday, India condemned the killings of civilians in Bucha, and backed the calls for an independent probe. This is the first time that New Delhi has publicly made a strong statement, although without naming Russia as an aggressor.
“Recent reports of civilian killings in Bucha are deeply disturbing. We unequivocally condemn these killings and support the call for an independent investigation,” said India’s special envoy to the UNSC, TS Tirumurti.
“The situation in Ukraine has not shown any significant improvement… the security situation has only deteriorated, as well as its humanitarian consequences,” he said. “We hope the international community will continue to respond positively to humanitarian needs. We support calls urging for guarantees of safe passage to deliver essential humanitarian and medical supplies,” he added.
The situation in Ukraine continues to worsen, with human rights organisations around the world describing it as the scariest and most horrifying war in Europe, after World War II. On Monday, the UN said that more than 4.2 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion began.
Keeping in view the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, Tirumurti said that India has been sending humanitarian supplies to Ukraine and its neighbours, including medicines and other essential relief material. “We stand ready to provide more medical supplies to Ukraine in the coming days,” he said.
Reiterating the need to end the conflict, the Indian envoy also called for talks and said that diplomacy is the only way to solve it. Tirumurti demonstrated India’s rock-solid stand on the conflict, ever since the war started on February 24. “We have emphasised right from the beginning of the conflict the need to pursue the path of diplomacy and dialogue. When innocent human lives are at stake, diplomacy must prevail as the only viable option. In this context we take note of the ongoing efforts, including the meetings held recently between the parties,” he said.
As the world witnesses a sudden spike in petrol and food prices, an aftermath of the conflict which seems to show no sign of ceasing at the moment, Tirumurti said, “The impact of the crisis is being felt beyond the region with increasing food and energy costs, especially for many developing countries. It is in our collective interest to work constructively, both inside the United Nations and outside, towards seeking an early resolution to the conflict.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his address during the UNSC session said, “I’ll never forget the horrifying images of civilians killed in Bucha. I immediately called for an independent investigation to guarantee effective accountability. I was shocked by the personal testimony of rapes &sexual violence emerging now.” Serious damage is being done to the global economy, particularly to developing countries, with some countries moving from vulnerability to crisis and showing signs of social unrest. “With all the warning signs flashing red, we have a duty to act,” he said.
“We’re urging all countries to keep markets open, resist unjustified and unnecessary export restrictions and make reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine. The use of strategic stockpiles and additional reserves could help ease this crisis in the short term,” added Guterres.
The hasty withdrawal of America and its NATO allies from Afghanistan last year, and the ongoing war in Europe, have led to developments that are reshaping the dynamics of geopolitics and economics across the world, reminiscent of the Cold War era.
From New Delhi’s perspective, we cannot isolate or directly condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine due to our geostrategic location and our troubled relations with China and Pakistan.
Isolating Russia could force the Kremlin to tilt towards China, which would be a disaster for India, especially since the two countries are still at loggerheads over the boundary issue at the Line of Actual Control after the Galwan Valley clash.
As Ukrainian President Zelenskyy urged the world to put more stringent sanctions on the Kremlin, he also demanded an immediate pullout of Russian troops from Ukraine and a referendum on any prospective agreements reached at peace talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected these demands and said that the West is trying to sink Russia-Ukraine talks.