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US targets 'bad actors,' levying sanctions against Iran and rallying leaders against Russia

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Yet if the U.N. is seen as increasingly ineffective, it is unclear how world leaders should confront multinational challenges.

Thursday's General Assembly session was convened to discuss peace and security in Ukraine and the issues of impunity and accountability. For most delegations, that meant holding Russia accountable for invading Ukraine and allegedly committing atrocities in numerous Ukrainian towns and regions.

Moscow's representative, however, said Ukraine had enjoyed impunity and should be blamed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov used his comments to turn the war narrative on its head, repeating Moscow's contention that the conflict was Ukraine's fault because of what he called the abuse and repression of Russian speakers and ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists have operated for several years. And he repeated the Russian assertion that the massive nation is the one under military threat, from Ukraine and its Western backers.

"Of course, the Kyiv regime," Lavrov said, implicitly refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government, "owes its impunity to its Western sponsors, first of all Germany and France but also the United States.

"Particularly cynical is the states that are pumping Ukraine full of weapons, and training their soldiers," he said, with the goal of "dragging out the fighting as long as possible in spite of the victims and destruction, in order to wear down and weaken Russia."

 

There had been speculation among U.S. officials that Lavrov might not attend the session to avoid the expected barrage of criticism. He appeared shortly before his turn to speak and left immediately afterward.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who recently took the job when Liz Truss was named to replace British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, described Lavrov's characterization of the war as "Russia's catalogues of distortions, dishonesty and disinformation."

In a dig, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said after Lavrov departed the chamber that Russian diplomats seem to flee as quickly as their soldiers. It was a reference to reports of massive desertions by troops deployed by Putin ahead of Ukrainian advances.

The Biden administration has sought to shore up support for Western-led efforts to arm, train and back Ukraine in its war with Russia. Some countries that rely on Russian weapons or fuel, such as India, have been reluctant.

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