Ukraine outraged by UN chief’s remarks on Russia
Ukraine's ambassador to the United Nations voiced outrage on Thursday after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Russia had a role to play in safeguarding human rights and ending the war in Ukraine.
Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko said Ban had praised Russia when Moscow “is the main player in aggressing Ukraine and in keeping the conflict boiling.”
Yelchenko said he would send Ban a formal protest to demand an explanation for the remarks, made during a visit to Saint Petersburg.
Ban said that Russia “has a critical role to play” in addressing global issues “from ending the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to safeguarding human rights and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
“I am completely outraged by such a statement,” Yelchenko told reporters.
“I don’t understand how the head of the United Nations can say such things,” he said.
Yelchenko took issue with Ban’s reference to “safeguarding human rights” when Russia is accused of rights abuses in Crimea, and said Moscow was “building up the nuclear potential” on the Black Sea peninsula.
Russia seized and annexed Crimea in 2014 in a move the UN General Assembly condemned as illegal.
Ban’s remarks disqualified him from playing any role in resolving Ukraine’s conflict, Yelchenko said.
The ambassador said he would express his outrage directly to Ban when he returns from Russia.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric dismissed the criticism.
“We are not going to walk back from what we said,” said Dujarric. “I would urge everyone to read the full statement.”
Moscow denies it is supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, who took up arms against Kiev in April 2014. Nearly 9,400 people have died in the violence.