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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

In Thursday's speeches, Blinken and others portrayed the war as a tragedy that goes far beyond Ukraine and Europe, affecting the Global South and countries in Asia and Africa that were cut off from food supplies when Russia blockaded Ukraine's Black Sea ports and its shipments of millions of tons of grain, fertilizer and cooking oil.

"At the global level, the conflict has supercharged a triple crisis of food, energy and finance," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in convening the meeting.

"This is driving millions more people into extreme poverty and hunger and reversing years of progress in development," he said, citing problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.

Especially critical, Guterres, Blinken and other diplomats say, is Russia's violation of the U.N. Charter, its foundational documents, by using force to attempt to take over a sovereign neighboring country. Both President Biden and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky also denounced this abuse by Putin and suggested that Russia be stripped of its veto powers in the Security Council.

But no such action was taken Thursday, and it is not clear whether there is a mechanism for stripping those powers. Binding international sanctions against Moscow are next to impossible to put in place through the U.N. due to Russia's veto powers, which have allowed the country to block punitive actions against it.

"Defending Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is about much more than standing up for one nation's right to choose its own path, fundamental as that right is," Blinken said Thursday. "It's also about protecting an international order where no nation can redraw the borders of another by force.

 

"If we fail to defend this principle when the Kremlin is so flagrantly violating it, we send a message to aggressors everywhere that they can ignore it, too," he continued. "We put every country at risk. We open the door to a less secure, a less peaceful world."

Blinken and others noted that far from standing down or seeking a diplomatic solution, Putin this week chose to order tens of thousands more Russians into the battle at the very time the world's leaders were meeting at the U.N.

"This is a war you will not win," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, addressing Putin without naming him. "Stop sending more of your own citizens to their deaths.... Stop driving hunger around the world.... Stop paralyzing this (U.N.) body."

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©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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