The 15-member security council gathered on Thursday to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, alleged war crimes and “sham” referendums to be held in Ukrainian territories seized by Russia — marking one of the highest-profile confrontations between Russian officials and their critics since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov’s attendance came as a surprise to some officials, as he had in July walked out of a meeting of the Group of 20 foreign ministers in Indonesia following criticism over Russia’s war.
Blinken and Lavrov have only spoken one other time since the war began — during a July phone call where they discussed a prisoner swap to bring two Americans home.
Blinken, the fourth of the 15 council members to speak on Thursday, blasted both Russia and Putin for the alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine, reiterating support for international and national efforts to investigate the atrocities. Russia has allegedly committed what Ukraine’s ambassador has called “war crimes of massive proportions,” echoing reporting out of Ukraine of another mass grave found in recent days, with some of the bodies showing signs of torture.
He also strongly condemned nuclear threats from Putin, urging every U.N. Security Council member to “send a clear message” to Russia that it must stop these types of threats. He also called on every member of the council to reject Russia’s “sham” referendums to annex parts of Ukraine.
“One man chose this war, one man can end it. Because if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends,” Blinken said.