Zelensky Denounces ‘Absurd’ U.N. Security Council Presidency for Russia

Ukraine’s leader has responded furiously to Russia’s monthlong presidency of the United Nations Security Council, saying it was “obviously absurd and destructive” that the post should pass to Moscow while it continued its invasion.

Russia is scheduled on Monday to preside over a Security Council meeting for the first time since it began the full-scale war in Ukraine almost 14 months ago. The role is a largely ceremonial one, taken for a month at a time in alphabetical order by each of the council’s 15 members.

It has come to Moscow weeks after President Vladimir V. Putin was accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court. The situation is a reminder that Ukraine and its allies, most notably the United States and Europe, have not always been successful in isolating Russia economically and politically to punish the Kremlin for the war.

“Yesterday, the Russian army killed another Ukrainian child — a 5-month-old boy named Danylo,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in his nightly address on Saturday. “And at the same time, Russia chairs the U.N. Security Council. It is hard to imagine something evident that proves the complete bankruptcy of such institutions.”

Three of the Security Council’s 15 current members — China, India and the United Arab Emirates — have avoided openly blaming Russia for the war, instead calling for both sides to cease hostilities. Mr. Zelensky implored those countries to change tack.

“It is important when the states that are neutral in the military-political sense nevertheless take a clear moral position towards Russian terror, towards Russia’s destruction of the global order based on rules,” Mr. Zelensky said.

Western officials have said that there is no legal path for removing Russia from its permanent seat at the Security Council, which set up Moscow’s presidency for the month of April.

Ukrainian officials say more than 450 children have been killed in the war and almost twice as many wounded. They also accuse Russia of forcibly moving almost 20,000 Ukrainian children to its territory.

Last week, Ukraine’s allies announced that they would task the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an intergovernmental group, to formally investigate the widespread reports of forced child deportations, which also formed a key part of the International Criminal Court’s accusations against Russia.

“This crime committed by Russia is one of the most cynical and anti-human crimes of our time,” Mr. Zelensky said.

The baby invoked by Mr. Zelensky died in a Russian attack on Avdiivka, a town in Ukraine’s east that has recently been subjected to increased bombardment. Russian troops have been engaged in a weekslong offensive across a broad front in eastern Ukraine. On Saturday, they continued their attacks, targeting areas around Lyman, Bakhmut and Avdiivka, according to Ukrainian officials.

In Avdiivka and Druzhkivka, another town in the eastern Donetsk region, Russia fired ballistic missiles at civilian targets, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its morning update early Sunday. It said the attacks caused civilian casualties. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

“Having no desired results on the battlefield, the enemy continues to cynically wage war against civilians,” the Ukrainian update said.