‘April 1 absurdity’: Russia takes over rotating presidency of UN Security Council

Moscow to hold discussion on arms exports, where it is expected to lambast Kyiv’s allies; will also convene panels on Mideast amid concerns of hardening rhetoric toward Jerusalem

United Nations Security Council vote on a draft resolution sanctioning Russia's planned annexation of war occupied Ukraine territory, September 30, 2022, at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
United Nations Security Council vote on a draft resolution sanctioning Russia's planned annexation of war occupied Ukraine territory, September 30, 2022, at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations’ Security Council on Saturday for a month, a move decried as an April Fool’s Day joke by critics.

“As of 1 April, they’re taking the level of absurdity to a new level,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent representative, according to The Guardian.

“The security council as it is designed is immobilized and incapable to address the issues of their primary responsibility, that is, prevention of conflicts and then dealing with conflicts,” said Kyslytsya.

Ukraine is not a member of the council but has been called to speak on matters related to the Russian invasion, however the envoy said Kyiv would not be represented at the body except in the case of an “issue of critical national security interest.”

Russia will be permitted to hold its own sessions at the council, and The Guardian said Moscow was planning to hold three.

The first will be on “risks stemming from the violations of the agreements regulating the export of weapons and military equipment,” at which it is expected to attack allies for supplying arms to Ukraine.

Heavily damaged building seen after a Russian attack in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, March 27, 2023. (Libkos/AP)

In addition, it will hold two sessions on “effective multilateralism” and on the situation in the Middle East, to be led by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is reportedly concerned by a hardening of Moscow’s rhetoric toward Jerusalem after Israel was said to have authorized the sale of defensive military equipment to Kyiv for the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While Israel and Russia have long coordinated their activities in Syrian airspace in order to avoid any clashes, ties have been strained since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. Though Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has acknowledged conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The Guardian said that while no member-nation was known to be planning a boycott for the month during which Moscow will head the key security body, the United States, United Kingdom, France and their allies were expected to downgrade their participation in Russian-sponsored events held by the panel.

US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday that Moscow “should not be” a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

“Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council. It shouldn’t be, because of what it is doing in Ukraine, but the [UN] charter does not allow for a change in its permanent membership,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a meeting of the Security Council at UN headquarters, November 21, 2022. (Seth Wenig/AP)

The US ambassador said she expects Russia to behave “professionally” in the presidency, but expressed doubts.

“We also expect that they will also seek opportunities to advance their disinformation campaign against Ukraine, the United States and all of our allies,” she said.

“At every opportunity, we will raise our concerns about Russia’s actions,” she added, reiterating Washington’s condemnation of Moscow’s “war crimes and human rights violations” in Ukraine.

AFP contributed to this report.

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