Zelensky urges the U.N. to label Russia a terrorist state over a missile strike on a shopping mall.

Source: www.nytimes.com : 2022-06-29 13:36:24 : Farnaz Fassihi

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, calling for the organization to brand Russia a terrorist state and dispatch investigators to inspect a missile attack on a shopping mall a day earlier in the city of Kremenchuk.

The Security Council had convened an emergency session at the request of Ukraine to discuss the attack, which set off a huge fire and has killed 18 people and injured at least 30. Both numbers are expected to rise, because many people are still unaccounted for.

“Who among you does not agree that this is not terrorism?” asked Mr. Zelensky, speaking via video in his second appearance before the council since the conflict began. “The Russian state has become a terrorist.”

He also said Moscow had forfeited its right to be a permanent member of the Security Council and should also be deprived of any representation at the U.N. General Assembly.

Mr. Zelensky read the names of some of the war’s victims, including a 3-month-old boy who, he said, was injured in a Russian attack and hospitalized in intensive care. He asked for a moment of silence to commemorate Ukraine’s dead. All council members, including Russia’s delegation, stood and observed a minute of silence.

But then the council returned to divisive back and forths, the kind of exchanges that have failed to produce any legally binding resolutions on Russia’s war on Ukraine.

A statement condemning the attack on the shopping mall would require the approval of all 15 members of the council — and Russia and its allies there remain unlikely to sign on. In the absence of unity, U.S. and European members, joined by Ukraine, issued their own statement and “strongly condemned the intensification of Russian missile strikes” on Ukrainian territory.

The U.S. deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Mills, said the attack fit into a Russia’s “cruel pattern” of targeting civilians and destroying civilian infrastructures. He said the evidence of war crimes was “mounting, and it cannot be ignored.”

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, denied that Russia had struck the mall, and offered a different explanation for the damage there, without presenting any evidence. He suggested that precision weapons had targeted a hanger near the mall that was storing weapons delivered from the United States and Europe, and that the ensuing fire had simply spread to the mall.

Mr. Polyanskiy also called his counterparts at the council “ridiculous” and “unconvincing” for “promoting Ukrainian propaganda.” He said Russia’s goal was to prevent Ukrainian forces from shelling the Donbas region.

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