Ukraine wants UN disarmament meeting over Russian offensive

Foreign Minister wants to discuss disarming Russia, while western weapons pour into Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has accused Russia of “indiscriminate shelling” and “war crimes,” and asked the UN Conference on Disarmament to hold a special meeting on the Russian “threat.” Moscow insists that Ukraine is at risk of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, as western arms continue to flow across its borders.

“Nothing can justify missile shelling of residential buildings, kindergartens, orphanages, hospitals and emergency vehicles, passengers buses and millions of refugees fleeing Russian fire,” Kuleba told the UN forum, based in Geneva, Switzerland, by video address.

Kuleba said that he had requested a meeting of the Conference on Disarmament to address the “global threat to global peace and security stemming from Russian aggression against Ukraine, including its WMD aspect,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

Russia insists that its military is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties in Ukraine, and numerous analysts have shown videos they say prove Ukrainian militias are placing artillery and other weapons in residential areas. Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov has accused the Ukrainian military of using civilians as “human shields” in this manner.

It remains unclear whether the meeting requested by Kuleba will go ahead.

Also speaking at the conference was Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In a pre-recorded address, Lavrov said that as a “responsible member of the international community,” Russia “is taking all necessary measures to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons and related technologies in Ukraine.”

Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in the early 1990s, when it signed the Budapest Memorandum, an agreement that Russia and the United States, among others, were party to. Prior to invading Ukraine last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Kiev could easily resume its nuclear program, or effectively acquire nuclear weapons by joining NATO and potentially hosting the alliance’s nukes on its territory.

Kiev has denied having any nuclear ambitions, but leaders there, as well as in Washington and Brussels, have thus far refused to rule out NATO membership for Ukraine. Meanwhile, with Russia’s military offensive into Ukraine ongoing, a stream of weapons from NATO and non-NATO countries alike have been sent to the Ukrainian military, including British anti-tank missiles, Dutch air-defense rockets, and Finnish assault rifles.

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