Russia has become a “terrorist” state, says Ukrainian President Zelenskyy – National | The Canadian News

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday accused Russia of having become a “terrorist” state that carries out “daily terrorist acts” and urged Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations.

In a virtual address to the UN Security Council, Zelenskyy urged the UN to establish an international tribunal to investigate “the actions of Russian occupiers on Ukrainian soil” and hold the country accountable.

“We have to act urgently to do everything possible to make Russia stop the wave of killings,” Zelenskyy said, warning that otherwise Russia’s “terrorist activity” will spread to other European countries and Asia, pointing to the Baltic states, Poland, Moldova and Kazakhstan.

“What is punished at the level of individual criminals and criminal organizations should not go unpunished at the level of a state that has become terrorist,” he said. “Daily terrorist acts. There are no days off. They work as terrorists every day.”

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In urging Russia’s expulsion from the 193-member United Nations, Zelenskyy cited Article 6 of the UN Charter, which states that a member “which has persistently violated the principles contained in this Charter may be expelled from the organization by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council.”

However, the expulsion of Russia is practically impossible. This is because, as a permanent member of the Council, Russia could use its veto to block any attempt at expulsion.

Ukraine called the Council meeting following the recent upsurge in Russian attacks, including Monday’s fiery airstrike on a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk, which Zelenskyy said killed at least 18 people and injured 30 others. “There are dozens missing” and body fragments, including hands and feet, have been found, he said, adding that unfortunately there may be more victims.

The Ukrainian leader began his speech by listing Russia’s attacks in recent days and giving the first names and ages of many of the victims. He ended his speech by asking the 15 members of the Security Council and the rest of those in the room to stand to pay tribute to the “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian children and adults killed in the war.

Click to play video: 'Russia denies missile attack on shopping mall as Ukraine says death toll rises to 18'

Russia denies missile attack on shopping mall as Ukraine says death toll reaches 18

Russia denies missile attack on shopping mall as Ukraine says death toll reaches 18

All members rose, including Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky.

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When he took the floor later, Polyansky protested giving Zelenskyy a second chance to address the Security Council, a decision by Albania, which holds the Council presidency this month.

The Russian envoy said the Ukrainian president’s video address violated the Council’s traditions and existing practices, which state that leaders wishing to address the Council must be present in the room.

“The UN Security Council should not become a platform for an arm’s length PR campaign by President Zelenskyy to get more arms from participants in the NATO summit” that begins Wednesday in Madrid, Polyansky said.

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He claimed that there was no Russian attack on the Kremenchuk commercial center, saying that Russian precision weapons hit the hangars of the Kremenchuk road machinery plant with U.S. and European weapons and ammunition destined for Ukrainian troops in eastern Donbass.

The mall was some distance away, but the detonation of the ammunition “created a fire that then spread to the mall,” Polyansky said.

The Russian envoy told Western nations that by supplying weapons to Ukraine they were prolonging the time when Ukrainian leaders “will sit down at the negotiating table with a realistic position and not with slogans.”

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“We started a special military operation to stop Ukraine’s shelling of Donbass and to stop the territory of Donbass, turned anti-Russian at the behest of a number of Western countries, as well as its nationalist leadership, from posing a threat to Russia or the inhabitants of southern and southeastern Ukraine,” he said. “And until those goals are achieved, our operation will continue.”

British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward countered that Russia “may try to claim that nothing is true and make outrageous claims about Ukrainian provocations,” but the undeniable fact is that Russia invaded Ukraine.

“There is an aggressor here,” he said. “The evidence will catch up with them and they will have to be held accountable for these crimes.”

Click to play video: 'Zelenskyy calls for more help from G7 allies'

Zelenskyy calls for more help from G7 allies.

Zelenskyy calls for more help from G7 allies.

Ambassador Zhang Jun of China, a close ally of Russia, called the conflict a “geopolitical crisis” with multiple spillover effects and urged the international community to work together to create the conditions necessary for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine to end hostilities at an early date.

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“Attempts to militarize the world economy and coerce other countries to take sides will artificially divide the international community and make the world even less secure,” Zhang warned. “Delaying and obstructing diplomatic negotiations for geopolitical purposes will only add fuel to the fire to intensify confrontation and magnify conflicts. It will inevitably end up hurting itself.”

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills, like many other Western ambassadors, accused Russia of destroying the shopping center, saying the attack “fits a vicious pattern, with the Russian military killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

He stressed that there is ample publicly available evidence “that Russia, and only Russia” is responsible for this and other attacks.

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