Dozens of diplomats on Tuesday staged a walkout as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Lavrov was giving a virtual speech at the forum in Geneva when diplomats from the European Union, the US, and the UK walked out, Reuters reported.
The US State Department on Monday accused Russia of “widespread” human-rights abuses in Ukraine as its troops fired missiles at civilian areas.
Lavrov canceled his in-person appearance at the human-rights council because EU states had blocked the path of his flight to Geneva, according to Reuters.
In his speech Tuesday, Lavrov accused the European Union of participating in “Russo frenzy,” according to a video of the walkout posted by a Sky News correspondent.
Lavrov’s speech came less than a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced what he characterized as a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
In the days since, Russian forces have waged an intense war on Ukraine, engaging in heavy shelling and missile attacks that have hit residential buildings, an orphanage, kindergartens, and a children’s hospital, according to the Ukrainian government.
Russia’s invasion, as well as its apparent disregard for distinguishing between military and civilian targets, sent shockwaves through the international community and united Western nations in unprecedented ways that may result in the opposite of what Putin had hoped for.
Among other things, Western nations have imposed harsh and crippling sanctions on Russia’s financial institutions and central bank that could hurt its ability to finance Putin’s war in Ukraine. Multiple European countries have also reversed long-standing policies against getting involved in conflict zones and said they would send weapons and financial assistance to aid Ukraine.
Russia has also been kicked out of major sports organizations including FIFA, the International Skating Union, and the International Ice Hockey Federation. And Putin’s actions have resulted in such a major disruption for Russia’s economy and markets that even some of his closest allies, like the oligarchs Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, have tentatively spoken out against the war.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Russian forces are facing fierce resistance from the Ukrainian military and civilian defense forces.
But experts say the fight is far from over.
“Russian military is suspending unsupported thunder runs, resupplying, and reorganizing,” Michael Kofman, the Russia expert at CNA, tweeted Monday. “Ukraine’s military has performed rly well, but I think we’re going to see a different Russian approach moving forward.”