Secretary of State Antony Blinken, face-to-face with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on Thursday at the United Nations, railed against Russia over its alleged war crimes and atrocities committed in Ukraine.
“That President [Vladimir] Putin picked this week as most of the world gathers at the United Nations to add fuel to the fire that he started shows his utter contempt for the U.N. charter, for the General Assembly and for this council,” Blinken said in remarks at a U.N. Security Council meeting. “The international order that we gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes.”
The meeting comes just one day after Putin mobilized 300,000 reservists to aid in Russia’s war against Ukraine and threatened to use nuclear weapons. Biden blasted Putin for the escalation, saying in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that Russia’s attempts to “erase” Ukraine from the map “should make your blood run cold.”
The 15-member security council gathered on Thursday to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, alleged war crimes and “sham” referendums to be held in Ukrainian territories seized by Russia — marking one of the highest-profile confrontations between Russian officials and their critics since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov’s attendance came as a surprise to some officials, as he had in July walked out of a meeting of the Group of 20 foreign ministers in Indonesia following criticism over Russia’s war.
Blinken and Lavrov have only spoken one other time since the war began — during a July phone call where they discussed a prisoner swap to bring two Americans home.
Blinken, the fourth of the 15 council members to speak on Thursday, blasted both Russia and Putin for the alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine, reiterating support for international and national efforts to investigate the atrocities. Russia has allegedly committed what Ukraine’s ambassador has called “war crimes of massive proportions,” echoing reporting out of Ukraine of another mass grave found in recent days, with some of the bodies showing signs of torture.
He also strongly condemned nuclear threats from Putin, urging every U.N. Security Council member to “send a clear message” to Russia that it must stop these types of threats. He also called on every member of the council to reject Russia’s “sham” referendums to annex parts of Ukraine.
“One man chose this war, one man can end it. Because if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends,” Blinken said.