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UN showdown looms between Lavrov, West over atrocities in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will face off on Thursday with his Ukrainian and Western counterparts, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when the United Nations Security Council meets over atrocities committed in Ukraine.

The UN Security Council met in New York to discuss and confront Russia on the invasion it launched against Ukraine. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan, will brief the 15-member body, during the annual gathering of world leaders for the UN General Assembly.

“A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the assembly on Wednesday in a recorded video. “The crime was committed against the lives of our people. The crime was committed against the dignity of our women and men.”

Ukraine, the United States and others have accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine. Russia denies targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation,” describing accusations of human rights abuses as a smear campaign.

The Security Council meeting took place a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight in Ukraine, moved to annex swaths of Ukrainian territory and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

The council has been unable to take any meaningful action on Ukraine because Russia is a permanent veto-wielding member. The meeting on Thursday will be at least the 20th time the Security Council has met in Ukraine this year.

Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor stated that his office is currently investigating nearly 26,000 suspected war crime cases committed since Russia’s invasion and has charged 135 people.

Ukrainian officials said last week they had found hundreds of bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs, buried in territory near the northeastern town of Izium that was recaptured from Russian forces. Zelenskyy described the incidents as proof of war crimes by the invaders, while the head of the pro-Russian administration, which abandoned the area a week earlier, accused Ukrainians of staging the atrocities in Izium.

This week, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 5,916 civilians killed and 8,616 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict.

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