UN chief upbraids Russia as country’s top diplomat listens impassively; global military spending rises to record

UN chief upbraids Russia as country’s top diplomat listens impassively; global military spending rises to record
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the start of a meeting following a United Nations Security Council gathering at the United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, US, 24 April 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Justin Lane)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the UN Charter as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listened impassively during a Security Council meeting on Monday.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made an urgent appeal to European Union counterparts for additional supplies of military equipment and ammunition ahead of an expected intensification of fighting.

Kuleba spoke to EU ministers gathered in Luxembourg by video link and also reiterated a request for sophisticated fighter jets. “There are no rational arguments why Ukraine cannot get modern Western-type combat aircraft and I am convinced that this decision will be made,” he said in an emailed statement. 

Key developments

UN chief blasts Russia as Lavrov looks on 

Russia’s invasion “is causing massive suffering and devastation to the country and its people”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. “We must find a way forward and act now as we have done before to stop the slide toward chaos and conflict.”

Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, is in New York this week to lead sessions of the Security Council as part of Russia’s month-long rotating presidency of the body

Moscow chose “Defence of the UN Charter” as the topic of Monday’s session. EU ambassadors denounced that as cynical in light of Russia’s invasion and the fact that the charter calls on all UN members to respect each other’s sovereignty.

No end in sight to Ukraine war, says Estonian commander  

There is nothing that could lead to a peaceful resolution in Ukraine short of the disintegration of Russia into smaller and less powerful countries, Estonia’s military chief, Martin Herem, said in a television interview.

“I don’t see a happy ending to the Ukraine war,” Herem said.

For countries like Estonia, that means that they need to prepare for a permanent security threat on their borders, the general said. “Essentially, we are increasingly today moving toward Israel’s situation, which means that we are constantly ready for something to start to happen. Not today or tomorrow, but the times are not becoming more peaceful,” Herem added.

US opposes Ukrainian attacks in Russian territory 

The US doesn’t support Ukrainian attacks into Russia, a top official said after a report that Ukrainian leaders contemplated a strike on Moscow.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the plan was considered around the first anniversary of the war, but the US urged against it. Speaking on MSNBC, National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby neither confirmed nor denied the report, but said the US has urged Ukraine not to attack outside its borders.

“We do not encourage nor do we enable the Ukrainians to strike outside their country into Russia,” he said. “We don’t want to see this war escalate.”




‘Ukrainian drone with explosives’ found near Moscow 

A “Ukrainian-made drone stuffed with explosives” crashed in a forest in the Bogorodsky district outside Moscow and was found by a local resident, Russia’s state-run Tass news service reported, citing municipal chief Igor Sukhin as saying on Telegram, without indicating how he knew the aircraft’s origin.

Tass also reported Russian law enforcement claims that the drone was Ukrainian and had a range of up to 900km.

Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out a number of drone strikes on military airfields, including ones close to Moscow, in recent months. Ukraine hasn’t commented on the attacks.

Russia’s defeat ‘most important task’: Kuleba  

Kuleba told EU ministers that Ukraine quickly needs more armoured vehicles, tanks and artillery systems and that further strengthening the country’s air defences is vital. 

Looking further ahead, he urged allies to expand logistics and maintenance hubs and increase training opportunities for Ukrainian troops. “Russia’s defeat is a guarantee of normal life for Europe; there isn’t a more important task now,” Kuleba said.

German lobby wants sanctions-busting companies blacklisted  

Germany’s BDI industry lobby said companies outside the EU that supply Russia with sanctioned goods should be blacklisted and called for a centralised control mechanism to help enforce punitive measures on the government in Moscow.

Read more: EU set to propose banning many goods from transiting via Russia

“Russia has created an increasingly sophisticated system for avoiding trade restrictions,” Wolfgang Niedermark, a BDI board member, said in a position paper published on Monday. “A central control instrument is urgently needed to enforce the embargo.”




Military spending rises to record  

Global military spending rose to a record last year, spurred by a policy U-turn in Europe where governments boosted capabilities by the most since the end of the Cold War. 

Read more: Global military spending rises to record as insecurity swells

Defence expenditure increased by 3.7% in real terms to reach a record high of $2.24-trillion in 2022, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. About half the annual increase was due to Ukraine’s ballooning military budget, data for the eastern European country that excludes foreign aid showed.

Italy’s Tajani touts reconstruction conference  

More than 1,000 companies are expected to take part in a conference on Ukraine reconstruction in Rome on Wednesday, according to Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. 

The conference is a chance for Italy to demonstrate solidarity beyond the military sphere and also signal support for “a people who are defending their own freedom”, Tajani told reporters in Luxembourg. Italy intends to play a leading role in rebuilding Ukraine, particularly in sectors such as infrastructure, transport, agribusiness, energy and digital technology, according to Tajani’s ministry.

EU still divided on ammunition plan: Borrell 

The EU remains divided on plans to jointly spend €1-billion to buy ammunition for Ukraine, according to Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief.  

“There is still some disagreement but I am sure everybody will understand that we are in a situation of extreme urgency,” Borrell told reporters before the EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg. 

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the speed of deliveries of ammunition was the key factor now for Ukraine. If there are delays, Ukrainian forces “might not push as far as and as successfully as they could with our assistance”, Landsbergis told reporters.

China comments show Beijing ‘can’t be trusted’ 

Landsbergis also said that comments from a Chinese envoy questioning the independence of ex-Soviet states echo the Kremlin’s own narrative and show that the government in Beijing cannot be trusted as an independent mediator in efforts to end the war.

Read more: Fury after Chinese envoy says ex-Soviet states not sovereign

“We’ve been always saying that we do not trust China as a mediator, as a possible mediator, it has chosen a side, it has sided with Russia,” Landsbergis said.

Kherson hit by artillery, air attacks 

Ukraine’s southern Kherson region sustained 83 separate attacks in the past 24 hours, according to regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin.

More than 400 rounds of ammunition were fired from artillery, drones and aircraft and targeted residential areas and a school, Prokudin said on Telegram. Two civilians were killed and six injured, he added. DM


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