After nearly two years of bombarding Ukrainian cities and killing civilians on a daily basis, Russia on Saturday used its seat on the UN Security Council to accuse Kyiv of a conducting a “terrorist attack” on civilians in Belgorod.
Russia said Ukraine attacked the city on Saturday with missiles and rockets and used widely prohibited cluster munitions, killing at least 21 people and wounding dozens more, according to local authorities.
It was “a terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime against a civilian city,” Russia's ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said during the emergency meeting requested by Moscow to specifically discuss the attack.
What the Russian representatives glossed over was their massive attack against multiple Ukrainian cities a day previously that killed 30 civilians across country.
Most permanent UN Security Council (UNSC) members were quick to dismiss Russia’s claims, pointing out Moscow had started the war and could end it at any time by withdrawing its troops from Ukraine.
The British envoy Thomas Phipps said London “deeply” regrets any civilian losses, but also called out Moscow for having started the war with an invasion two years ago, AFP reports.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. There is not a single Ukrainian soldier in Russia,” he said.
“If Russia wants someone to blame for the deaths of Russians in this war, it should start with President Putin.”
Phipps likewise said that Russia was the side to blame for targeting non-combatants, saying: “After having failed to defeat Ukraine militarily, Russia has now turned to indiscriminate attacks on civilians.”
The US representative John Kelly also put the blame squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is (Putin's) war, it is his choice,” he said. “Russia could end this war today... We call for the protection of all civilians on all sides of every conflict.”
The French envoy Nicolas de Riviere said Ukraine was simply defending itself under UN laws, while Moscow was “trampling” over the UN Charter.
Ukraine's ambassador to the UN Serhii Dvornyk said that “as long as this war, unleashed by the Kremlin dictator, endures the toll of death and suffering will continue to grow.”
“As Ukraine is still recovering from yesterday's horrendous strikes, new raids of Russian terror persist. Just hours ago... Russia again terrorized Kharkiv with its S-300 missiles hitting a residential area.”
Ukraine, which has been resisting a Russian invasion for nearly two years and earlier this week came under a huge Russian missile and drone assault, has not officially commented on the strike against Belgorod.
Belgorod lies about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border with Ukraine and has been repeatedly struck by what Moscow says is indiscriminate shelling by Kyiv's forces.
“As the war continues we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed,” said UN assistant secretary-general Mohamed Khiari, warning there were “very real dangers of escalation and spillover of this war.”
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