UN security council must tell Russia to cease nuke threats, says Antony Blinken

This was a UN Security Council convened amid a sense of crisis, as US Correspondent Robert Moore reports

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on every UN Security Council member to “send a clear message" to Russia that it must stop its nuclear threats in the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that his nuclear-armed country “certainly use all means available to us” if its territory is threatened and to defend the country and its people.

Mr Blinken used a council session to criticise Russia's invasion and press other countries to join in their forceful condemnations of the conflict.

"Every council member should send a clear message that these reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately," he said.

A day after President Joe Biden assailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin for what he called egregious violations of the UN Charter and international law.

The US made the case at the UN Security Council that Russia should face further censure and isolation for its invasion.

ITV News Correspondent Robert Moore reports on a 'dramatic' and 'pretty dark day' at the UN Security Council

Mr Blinken listed several allegations of war crimes and other atrocities and called on countries that have yet to speak out forcefully against them as an affront to international order.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wryly told reporters beforehand that he planned to keep a “safe social distance” from his counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

And as council staffers prepared to put a placard marking Ukraine's seat next to Russia's, Kuleba apparently raised objections — the placard was moved to another spot. Lavrov was not in the room at that point.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. Credit: AP

Russia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine and the West of imposing a "completely different narrative" that places Moscow as the aggressor.

He also accused Ukraine and its allies of "impunity" in the Donbas region, claiming that Kyiv is denying basic rights to the areas largely Russian speaking population.

“People were denied their pensions, their subsidies, access to education and basic civil rights,” Lavrov said.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. Credit: PA

After finishing his address to the security council, Russia's foreign minister promptly left the gathering.

The UK's new Foreign Secretary James Cleverly followed Lavrov's address, calling on countries to reject the “charade” of referenda to be held in Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern of Ukraine.

He argued that the Russian president plans to fix the results of votes on becoming parts of Russia.

He also said the “devastating consequences” of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine are becoming clearer by the day.

“Every day the devastating consequences of Russia’s invasion become more clear,” he told a special foreign minister-level meeting of the UN Security Council.

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“We see the mounting evidence of Russian atrocities against civilians, including indiscriminate shelling and targeted attacks on over 200 medical facilities and 40 educational institutions and horrific acts of sexual violence”.

He said in parts of Ukraine under Russian control, civilians are subject to torture, arbitrary detention and forced deportation to Russia.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s president laid out a detailed case against Russia’s invasion at the United Nations and demanded punishment from world leaders in a speech delivered just hours after Moscow made an extraordinary announcement that it would mobilise some reservists for the war effort.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed in a video address to world leaders that his forces would not stop until they had reclaimed all of Ukraine.

“We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it with the force of arms,” Zelenskyy said. “But we need time.”