Ukraine-Russia war: Give Germany a place on the UN Security Council, says Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky looks across the room towards Russia's Ambassador at the UN Security Council meeting
Volodymyr Zelensky looks across the room towards Russia's Ambassador at the UN Security Council meeting - MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Volodymyr Zelensky used his UN Security Council address to call for Germany to be given a permanent seat as he criticised the organisation’s inaction on the war.

Claiming the Council should represent “current realities”, the Ukrainian president also suggested African Unity should be given a place at the council, as well as broader representation for Asia.

Mr Zelensky, 45, said it is “unjust” that billions of people do not have a permanent representative in the Security Council, while Russia does.

During his first-in-person appearance before the UN’s most powerful body, Mr Zelensky also called for the assembly to be given power to overcome the veto power held by Russia.

“It is impossible to stop the war because all efforts are vetoed by the aggressor,” he said.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, was seen using his phone during Mr Zelensky’s remarks.

There are only five permanent members of the UN Security Council: the United Kingdom, the United States, France, China and Russia. US president Joe Biden was the only leader of the five countries to attend this year’s General Assembly.

During his address on Tuesday, Mr Biden also suggested the Council should be expanded, claiming it should reflect geopolitics in the 21st century.

Mr Zelensky also lambasted the UN’s power to prevent conflict, telling Wednesday’s special meeting: “We should recognise that the UN finds itself in a deadlock on the matter of aggression.”

He added: “Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN when it comes to the defence of the sovereign border of nations.”

Mr Zelensky left the chamber following his speech, avoiding a face-off with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov used his speech to defend his country’s use of veto power as an “absolutely legitimate tool” of international relations.

Before Mr Zelensky spoke, there was a terse exchange when Mr Nebenzya objected to a speaking order that put the Ukrainian president before the Council’s members, including Russia.

He said Albanian president Edi Rama, this month’s Council president, was trying to turn the meeting into “a one-man stand-up show” – a jibe at Mr Zelensky’s past as a comedian – adding that it will be “nothing more than a spectacle”.

Mr Rama responded: “You stop the war, and President Zelensky will not take the floor.”

Ukraine is not a member of the Security Council but was invited to speak.

The Security Council, charged with ensuring international peace and security, has held more than 50 meetings on Ukraine, and they are almost always contentious.

05:47 PM BST

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05:22 PM BST

'A game of musical chairs'

Each time one of the world leader’s leaves the horseshoe table, a member of their delegation slips into their place, US Correspondent Susie Coen writes.

Currently both Mr Zelensky and Russia’s Mr Nebenzya’s seats are being kept warm by one of their officials.

05:20 PM BST

Watch: Albanian PM clashes with Russian representative at UN meeting

05:13 PM BST

Watch: Security Council meeting continues as Zelensky wraps up speech

Volodymyr Zelensky may have concluded his calls for reform after lambasting the UN’s “ineffective” institutions, but the Security Council meeting is just getting started.

The full list of speakers can be found here. Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, who is leading the UK delegation, will be the tenth representative to speak.

04:58 PM BST

Journalists file out as Zelensky speech ends

Members of the press began filing out of the chamber following Mr Zelensky’s speech, showing just how central his address is to this meeting, US Correspondent Susie Coen writes.

Meanwhile, a disinterested-looking Mr Nebenzya is checking his phone while the Albanian prime minister, Edi Rama, lambasts the invasion of Ukraine as a “man-made tragedy” and a “war of aggression”.

04:48 PM BST

Albanian PM praises Zelensky's 'strong words'

Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama has praised Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech, which has now finished.

“Your strong words translate the pain of your compatriots and convey very clearly... the grit of your people and the unwavering hope of your nation,” he said.

04:46 PM BST

UN 'compromises with killers instead of saving lives'

The UN offers “rhetoric” instead of “real solutions” to problems, Volodymyr Zelensky has argued, as he laid out proposals to expand the UN security council and override its veto.

He said: “The resolutions of the general assembly have clearly recognised the fact that the only source of this war is Russia, but this has changed nothing for Russia in the United Nations. However, these are the situations that have changed everything for the UN.

“We should recognise that the UN finds itself in a deadlock in the matters of aggression. Humankind no longer pins it hopes on the UN when it comes to the defence of the sovereign borders of nations.

“World leaders are seeking new platforms and alliances that could reduce the disastrous scope of problems - problems that are met here within these walls with rhetoric, rather than real solutions, with aspirations to compromise with killers rather than to protect lives. Lives should be protected uncompromisingly.”

04:40 PM BST

Zelensky opposite Russian ambassador to UN

Volodymyr Zelensky is sitting opposite Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, in what is already a tense Security Council meeting, US Correspondent Susie Coen writes from inside the room.

04:38 PM BST

'UN needs reform'

Zelensky has called for UN reform after calling the body “ineffective”.

He tells the security council meeting: “The years long discussions on UN reform must be translated into a viable process of UN reform and it should not be only about representation here in the security council.

“The use of veto power, that is what requires the reform.”

04:36 PM BST

Zelensky: UN is 'incapable of stopping Russian aggression'

Zelensky says the UN is “incapable” of stopping Russian aggression because it has a permanent seat on the Security Council following “backstage negotiations”.

04:33 PM BST

Zelensky: Russia is a 'terrorist state'

Volodymyr Zelensky has his speech, saying: “Since the start of the full scale aggression launched by this state which for some reason is still present here…Russia has killed at least tens of thousands of our people.”

He calls Russia a “terrorist state.”

04:31 PM BST

Guterres criticises end of Black Sea deal

Mr Guterres has criticised Russia’s withdrawal from the UN-brokered Black Sea export deal, and calling its subsequent bombardment of Ukrainian ports “unacceptable”.

He finishes: “There is never an alternative to dialogue, diplomacy and a just peace.”

04:26 PM BST

Russia's 'systematic attacks on civilians' condemned

The number of conflict-related deaths almost doubled last year, the UN’s secretary general Antonio Guterres has told the UN security council meeting.

He condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for violating the UN charter, saying there have been “relentless systematic attacks” against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

04:17 PM BST

Russia: 'This is a one-man stand-up show for Zelensky'

The Russian representative is doubling down on his criticism of the speaking order, claiming the meeting has been turned into a “one-man stand-up show” for Volodymyr Zelensky.

“You stop the war and President Zelensky will not take the floor,” the Albanian prime minister responds.

04:14 PM BST

Russia makes objection before Zelensky speech

Russia has objected to the proposal to hand the floor over to Volodymyr Zelensky before security council members can speak.

However, Albanian prime minister Edi Rama says the notice of speaking orders was given to members in advance, and says the objection should have been decided beforehand.

He adds this is not a “special operation” by Albania - a nod to Russia’s term for its war in Ukraine - and that it is in line with the committee’s practices.

04:06 PM BST

UN Security Council starts

The prime minister of Albania has called the UN Security Council to order as representatives take their seats and the meeting begins.

04:00 PM BST

Dowden spotted at UN Security Council meeting

Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, who is leading Britain’s delegation to the UN, has arrived at the Security Council meeting in New York.

03:48 PM BST

Zelensky adviser: 'The world is united against Russia'

Ukraine needs to win back its territory to restore “respect for international law”, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Echoing the Ukrainian presidents’ address to the UN yesterday, Mykhailo Podolyak said: “The world is united in basic things: Russia has to lose; Ukraine’s restoration of territorial integrity is imperative for restoring respect for international law.

“Even the neutral countries that are taking advantage of the hopeless situation of the big gas station in their own interests today realize that Russia cannot be a strategic partner and have no respect for Putin.

“Russia will lose this war, no matter what virtual worlds Moscow’s propaganda may paint today.”

03:25 PM BST

Kherson 'bombed repeatedly' as residents head to shelters

Russian forces are intensifying their attacks on coastal towns along the Dnipro River, the regional governor of Kherson has warned.

Oleksandr Produkin wrote on Telegram: “Since the beginning of this day alone, the occupiers have dropped at least nine guided aerial bombs on populated areas of the region.

“Tiahynka, Mykolaivka and Odradokamyanka came under fire.

“Residents of cities and communities located along the Dnipro River, do not ignore air warning signals. Be sure to go to the shelters and do not leave the houses without an urgent need.”

03:18 PM BST

Warnings of Russian 'terrorist attacks' on energy infrastructure

Russia is reportedly scoping out Ukraine’s power stations as speculation grows that it could seek to leave millions without heating as the cold weather draws in.

A spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence said: “There is... information that the enemy is also carrying out intelligence activities on the energy infrastructure, and there is a threat of repeating terrorist attacks.”

Roughly a third of the country’s power stations were destroyed in October last year as Russia launched repeated bombing raids.

03:13 PM BST

Ukraine 'nearing key Bakhmut supply route'

Ukraine is edging closer to a key Russian supply route leading to the eastern city of Bakhmut, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Kyiv’s forces recaptured Klishchiivka and Andriivka, two villages around 5 miles to the south, earlier this month. The city’s defences have “likely” been further weakened as paratrooper units were redeployed to the southern front.

However, the MoD added: “Russia continues to hold the railway line which runs along the embankment between Klishchiivka and the T 05-13 [road], creating a readily defendable obstacle.”

02:45 PM BST

Ukraine strikes fuel depot near Russian resort city airport

Ukraine struck a fuel depot in a likely drone attack near the airport of Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Images from the scene showed huge tanks on fire, while videos showed a big column of smoke rising over the city. Witnesses said before the fire broke out, explosions were heard.

It came as Russia struck the Kremenchuk oil refinery in the central Poltava region of Ukraine in an overnight drone attack, causing another fire.

Veniamin Kondratyev, governor of the Krasnodar region, said preliminary information indicated that there were no casualties in the Sochi duel depot attack.

Alexei Kopaigorodskyi, the city’s mayor, said the airport and entire transport system were operating as normal.

02:39 PM BST

Poland summons Ukrainian ambassador over Zelensky comments

Poland’s foreign ministry has summoned the Ukrainian ambassador over comments made by President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations General Assembly, it said.

The Ukrainian president said in an address that Kyiv was “working hard to preserve the land routes for grain exports” and that the “political theatre” around grain imports was only helping Moscow, which invaded Ukraine last year.

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, citing a need to protect domestic markets, announced their own curbs on Ukrainian grain imports on Friday after the European Commission decided not to extend its ban on such imports into five eastern European Union member states.

”(Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski) conveyed the Polish side’s strong protest against the statements made by President V. Zelensky at the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, alleging that some EU countries feigned solidarity while indirectly supporting Russia,” a foreign ministry statement said.

01:51 PM BST

Putin accepts invitation to visit China in October

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said he has accepted an invitation from his Chinese counterpart to visit China in October during the Belt and Road Summit.

Speaking after a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow, Putin said Russia and China are “integrating our ideas of creating a large Eurasian space,” noting that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a part of that.

The Initiative is a huge program in which Beijing has been expanding its influence in developing regions through infrastructure projects.

01:20 PM BST

Death toll in Russian strike on Kupiansk rises to eight

The death toll from Tuesday’s Russian strike on the Ukrainian city of Kupiansk has risen to eight people, authorities said, after Ukrainian rescuers found another two bodies in the rubble.

Kupiansk is less than 10 kilometres from the frontline in Ukraine’s north-eastern Kharkiv region, where Moscow has made some gains in recent months.

“Unfortunately, the bodies of two more dead civilian men were found,” Kharkiv governor Oleg Synegubov said on Telegram Wednesday.

That brought the death toll in Tuesday’s strike to eight people, he said: “Six men and two women, including two volunteers who were evacuating people.”

Russian forces struck the city with a Grom missile, he said, posting a photo of what appeared to be a burnt-out car.

Ukraine in August called on people living near Kupiansk to evacuate as Russian forces made advances in the area.

12:59 PM BST

Ukraine's parliament passes amended bill on asset declarations

Ukraine’s parliament passed an amended bill on asset declarations on Wednesday after a previous text passed by the chamber was vetoed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a lawmaker said.

The lawmaker, Yaroslav Zheleznyak, said 341 lawmakers had voted for the bill, representing a large majority.

12:54 PM BST

Russia thwarts missile attack on Sevastopol, local official says

Russia prevented a missile attack on Crimea’s Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed governor of Sevastopol, claimed in a post in his Telegram channel.

Earlier, Razvozhayev claimed that Russia had downed several drones near Sevastopol.

“According to updated information, our air defence repelled a missile attack on Sevastopol. Information on possible damage from falling parts of downed missiles and casualties is being verified,” Razvozhayev said.

11:51 AM BST

Latest MoD update: Ukrainian forces closer to one of the main supply routes into Bakhmut

11:38 AM BST

EU 'amazed' by Ukraine reforms

Ukraine is making surprisingly swift progress on reforms and can quickly become a member of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President has said.

“I am amazed to see how Ukraine is doing very difficult reforms while they are fighting a war,” she said in New York.

The EU is under pressure to accelerate the membership process for Ukraine, but the ongoing war — and earlier applications from several other countries, particularly in the Western Balkans — are complicating the debate.

She added: “If they keep the pace — and I see they’re absolutely motivated — this is a decisive moment.”

Ms Von der Leyen, who runs the EU’s executive arm, stressed that the process is merit-based and declined to offer a specific timeline, but she said she’s convinced that Kyiv will eventually succeed in its membership bid.

She also said she’s confident the bloc will be able to deliver on its pledge this spring to supply Ukraine with one million rounds of ammunition within 12 months.

10:41 AM BST

Pictured: Kim Jong Un returns to North Korea from Russia trip

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (C) receiving a welcome upon his return from Russia by train, at Pyongyang Station
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (C) receiving a welcome upon his return from Russia by train, at Pyongyang Station - STR/AFP

10:10 AM BST

Poland may ban more Ukrainian food products if row escalates, says PM

Poland could slap import bans on more Ukrainian food products, the prime minister said on Wednesday, as he warned Kyiv against escalating a row over grain imports.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since Russia invaded the country in 2022, but the countries are now embroiled in a deepening conflict over agricultural imports since Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, extended a ban on grain imports from their war-torn neighbour.

“I warn the Ukrainian authorities, because if they escalate this conflict in this way, we will add more products to the ban on import into the territory of the Republic of Poland,” he told Polsat news.

A World Trade Organization spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that Ukraine had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body.

09:38 AM BST

Fire at fuel tank in Russia's Sochi sea resort extinguished

A fire at a fuel tank near an airport in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi has been extinguished, the city’s mayor said.

“There were no casualties,” the mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodskyi, said on the Telegram messaging platform.

“The airport and the entire transport system are operating as normal.”

He said the cause of the fire is being investigated.

09:17 AM BST

Russia hits Ukrainian Kremenchuk oil refinery in drone attack

Russia hit the Kremenchuk oil refinery in the central Poltava region of Ukraine in an overnight drone attack causing a fire, governor Dmytro Lunin said.

Refinery operations have been temporarily stopped, he said on the Telegram messaging app, adding that there was no information about casualties.

09:10 AM BST

Fire at fuel tank in Russia's Sochi sea resort extinguished

A fire at a fuel tank near an airport in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi has been extinguished, the city’s mayor said.

“There were no casualties,” the mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodskyi, said on the Telegram messaging platform.

“The airport and the entire transport system are operating as normal.”

He said the cause of the fire is being investigated.

08:22 AM BST

Pictured: Olena Zelenska speaking in New York

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska speaks onstage during the Clinton Global Initiative - Noam Galai/Getty Images North America

08:11 AM BST

Here is a recap of what happened yesterday

Volodymyr Zelensky used his address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to warn against “shady dealings” to end the Russian war against Ukraine.

During his first in-person appearance at the annual gathering since the invasion began, Mr Zelensky, 45, invited delegates who “do tolerate any aggression” to join a peace summit, before stating: “I am aware of the attempts to make some shady dealings behind the scenes.”

In his much anticipated speech, Mr Zelensky told the 78th UNGA in New York: “Evil cannot be trusted, just ask Prigozhin”, referring to the former Wagner leader who died in a plane crash two months after mounting a mutiny against Vladmir Putin.

Doubling down on his aversion to a peace deal, Mr Zelensky said: “Look, for the first time in modern history we have a real chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation which was attacked.”

08:06 AM BST

Zelensky expected to address UN Security Council

Volodymr Zelensky is set to go face to face with Russian officials for the first time since his country was invaded, as the UN Security Council meets for a potentially dramatic session.

He will address a special session on the war at the powerful Security Council, where Russia is a permanent member wielding veto power against any decisions, AFP is reporting.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. - MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in New York late on Tuesday, with official media saying he flew a circuitous route to avoid European airspace.

It remains unclear if Moscow’s top diplomat - himself a former UN ambassador - will attend the Security Council session and face Mr Zelensky.

The potential showdown “could create one of those iconic UN moments,” said Marti Flacks, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

07:47 AM BST

'Dig deep' and provide more air defence systems for Ukraine, says Lloyd Austin

“Dig deep” and provide more air defence systems for Ukraine to help it block increasing barrages of Russian missiles, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin urged allied defense leaders, amid a growing debate in Congress over aid to Kyiv.

But while the allies said they will discuss how they can best help Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the coming winter months, they appeared no closer to commitments on the longer-range missiles that Kyiv’s leaders insist they need as they struggle to retake land gained by Russia earlier in the conflict.

“Air defence is saving lives,” Mr Austin said. “I urged allies and partners to dig deep and donate whatever air defence munitions they can as Ukraine heads into another winter of war.”

Speaking at the close of the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Mr Austin said allies have done a “credible job” of getting some air defences to the war, “but there’s much more work to be done. And that’s the message that we conveyed to our colleagues earlier today. And I have every belief that they will go back and dig a bit deeper.”

07:43 AM BST

Ukraine says 17 of 24 Russian drones destroyed overnight

Ukraine’s armed forces said Wednesday they had destroyed 17 out of 24 Russian drones launched overnight, while an oil refinery was hit, according to a regional governor.

During the night, Russia “attacked Ukraine with 24 kamikaze drones of the Shahed-136/131 type, 17 of which were destroyed by Ukrainian air defence,” the General Staff said in a daily update.

Information regarding the consequences of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks was still being clarified, it added.

In the central Poltava region, an oil refinery was struck, according to the regional governor Dmytro Lunin.

“Tonight the Russians repeatedly attacked Poltava region. Our anti-aircraft defence worked well against enemy anti-aircraft missiles,” he said on Telegram.

07:41 AM BST

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