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Russia assumes presidency of UN Security Council

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin partakes in a video conference in Moscow, Russia, March 25, 2021. (File photo by Sputnik via Reuters)

Russia has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in April, despite Ukraine calling on member states to block the move. 

Presidency of the Security Council rotates alphabetically among its 15 member nations and Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council on Saturday for a month.

The powerful body is controlled by its five permanent veto members, namely, the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom — collectively known as the P5.

Moscow's critics have objected to Russia's presidency of the UN Security Council, insisting that its permanent membership in the powerful body should be cancelled.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month became the first head of state of a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to be issued with an arrest warrant, over an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

Moscow has defended the move as a necessary measure for saving the children's lives while denying that the deportations were forced upon them.

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield insisted on Thursday that Russia "should not be" a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council. It shouldn't be, because of what it is doing in Ukraine, but the [UN] charter does not allow for a change in its permanent membership," Thomas-Greenfield said in an interview from Costa Rica, where she was attending a democracy summit.

Thomas-Greenfield said she expected Russia to behave "professionally" during its presidency but also expressed doubts, saying Washington thought Moscow would "seek opportunities to advance their disinformation campaign against Ukraine, the United States, and all of our allies."

"At every opportunity, we will raise our concerns about Russia's actions," she added, reiterating Washington's condemnation of Moscow's "war crimes and human rights violations" in Ukraine.

The UN charter, the foundation of the international body, does not make it easy to eliminate a permanent member of the Security Council. Russia's own veto can easily retain its permanent seat in the Council.

“A country that flagrantly violates the UN charter and invades their smaller neighbor has no place on the UN Security Council. Unfortunately Russia is a permanent member of the Council and no international legal pathway exists to change that reality,” a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN told media.

The US has vowed to challenge what Russia says in the Security Council. “We continue to call out their lies and bring credible voices, data and facts on the ground,” the US spokesperson said.

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