Russia’s presidency of UN Security Council is ‘absurd and destructive’, says Zelenskiy

Ukrainian president calls for reform of global institutions ‘to prevent terrorist states from destroying the peace’

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday said it was absurd Russia had assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, adding this showed the institution’s “total bankruptcy”.

Russia took over the presidency of the UN’s top security body on Saturday, which rotates every month. The last time Moscow held the post was in February 2022, when its troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, we ... have some obviously absurd and destructive news,” Mr Zelenskiy said in an evening video address, adding that Russian shelling had killed a five-month-old boy on Friday.

“And at the same time Russia is chairing the UN Security Council. It’s hard to imagine anything that proves more the total bankruptcy of such institutions,” he said.


The Kremlin said on Friday it planned to “exercise all its rights” in the role.

The United States on Thursday urged Russia to “conduct itself professionally” when it assumes the role, saying there was no means to block Moscow from the post.

Mr Zelenskiy said it was time for a general overhaul of global institutions, including the security council.

“Reform is obviously necessary to prevent a terrorist state – and any other state that wants to be a terrorist – from destroying the peace,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Zelenskiy’s adviser Andriy Yermak also hit out at Iran, which Kyiv and its allies accuse of supplying Russia with arms. Tehran denies it is giving weapons to Russia.

“It is very telling that on the holiday of one terror state – Iran – another terror state – Russia – begins to preside over the UN Security Council,” Mr Yermak wrote on Twitter, referring to Iran’s Islamic Republic Day holiday.

He also criticised the “symbolic blow” of Russia assuming the presidency of the security council.

The Ukrainian president’s chief of staff wrote on Twitter: “It’s not just a shame. It is another symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s top security agency has notified a top Orthodox priest that he is suspected of justifying Russia’s aggression, which is a criminal offence.

Metropolitan Pavel, the abbot of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra monastery in the Ukrainian capital, has been summoned for questioning.

Photographs released by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) showed officers outside Pavel’s home on Saturday.

Pavel’s branch of Ukraine’s Orthodox church (UOC) was until recently formally tied to the Russian Orthodox church.

SBU agents raided his residence and prosecutors asked the court to put him under house arrest pending the investigation.

The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra is owned by the Ukrainian government and the agency overseeing it notified the monks that it was terminating the lease and they had until Wednesday to leave.

Pavel and his fellow clergymen told worshipers on Wednesday that the monks would not leave pending the outcome of a lawsuit the UOC filed in a Kyiv court to stop the eviction.

During a hearing on Saturday, he rejected the security service’s claim that he condoned Russia’s invasion. Prosecutors asked to have him put under house arrest pending an investigation. The hearing was adjourned until Monday after the metropolitan said he was not feeling well.

The Ukrainian government has cracked down on the Ukrainian Orthodox church over its historic ties to the Russian Orthodox church, whose leader, Patriarch Kirill, has supported Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Ukrainian Orthodox church has insisted that it’s loyal to Ukraine and has denounced the Russian invasion from the start. The church declared its independence from Moscow.

But Ukrainian security agencies have claimed that some in the UOC have maintained close ties with Moscow. – Reuters/Guardian