Russian missiles pounded civilian apartment blocks in eastern Ukraine Sunday, a day after Ukrainian leaders expressed outrage that Moscow is being allowed to take control of the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday that the development exposes the “total bankruptcy” of the world security body, calling Russia’s move into the presidency “absurd and destructive news.”
“It’s hard to imagine anything that proves more the total bankruptcy of such institutions,” Mr. Zelenskyy said in a video address amid Russian military strikes targeting civilians in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian president lamented that Russian shelling had killed a 5-month-old boy Friday, according to wire reports. That carnage was followed Sunday with a barrage of Russian strikes on the city of Kostyantynivka, near intense fighting in the frontline area of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s east.
A top Ukrainian official said on social media that at least six civilians were killed when Russian missiles and rockets damaged 16 apartment blocks in the industrial city, according to the BBC, although the death toll was not immediately verified.
The fresh wave of Russian strikes targeting civilians followed other expressions of frustration from Ukrainian officials toward the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) development.
“[The] Russian UNSC presidency is a slap in the face to the international community,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Saturday. “I urge the current UNSC members to thwart any Russian attempts to abuse its presidency. I also remind that Russia is an outlaw on the UNSC.”
The Kremlin said Friday that it plans to “exercise all its rights” during Russia’s one-month rotation in the role, according to a report published by France 24.
The Biden administration has taken a resigned posture toward the development.
President Biden sharply criticized Russia in remarks to the United Nations in September, saying Russia “shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter” by invading Ukraine in February 2022.
But administration officials last week said Russia’s status as a permanent UNSC member means Moscow will be allowed to assume control of the rotating security council presidency in New York for the month of April, and there is no viable means to block the development.
“We urge Russia to conduct itself professionally,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a news briefing, according to Reuters. “We expect Russia to continue to use its seat on the council to spread disinformation” and justify its actions in Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council and no feasible international legal pathway exists to change that reality,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “The reality is this is a larger position, which rotates to council members month by month in alphabetical order.”