Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia for the killings of Ukrainian civilians as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth day, noting that Russian strikes “are hitting schools, hospitals and residential buildings” in remarks before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“They are destroying critical infrastructure, which provides millions of people across Ukraine with drinking water, gas to keep them from freezing to death, and electricity,” Blinken said. “Civilian buses, cars, and even ambulances have been shelled. Russia is doing this every day — across Ukraine.”
“One can reasonably ask whether a UN member state that tries to take over another UN member state — while committing horrific human rights abuses and causing massive humanitarian suffering — should be allowed to remain on this Council,” Blinken added.
Blinken also issued sharp criticisms of countries, such as China, that have failed to take a decisive stance and condemn Russia for the invasion of a sovereign nation.
“Council members should stop using language implying that all sides bear equal responsibility for the unprovoked attack of one side,” he said. “This isn’t evenhanded — it’s wrong — and fails to place accountability where it belongs. The same goes for members who argue, falsely, that denouncing human rights abuses is ‘politicizing’ the situation. It is failing to speak up about human rights abuses that politicizes the situation.”
Fighting in Ukraine has intensified and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a war crimes investigation into Russia, saying that Russian forces intentionally attacked civilian targets. Russia has denied this.
“They are killing people and transforming peaceful cities into military targets,” he said in remarks last week. “That’s villainous and will never be forgiven.”
Remarking on his conversations with world leaders and requests that Ukraine be admitted into NATO, he said, “Everyone is afraid. They don’t answer. But we are not afraid. We aren’t afraid of anything. We aren’t afraid to defend our country. We aren’t afraid of Russia.”
Zelenskyy was met with a standing ovation in remarks today before the European Parliament in which he noted that his nation is “fighting for survival.”
“We are fighting just for our land and our freedom,” he said. “We desire to see our children alive. I think it’s a fair one. We are fighting for our life … We are fighting for survival. This is the highest of our motivation.”
“But we are fighting also to be equal members of Europe,” he added. “I believe that today we are showing everybody that’s exactly what we are.”
Zelenskyy has requested that Ukraine be admitted to the European Union via an expedited process.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.