Russia’s U.N. envoy storms out of Ukraine meeting over European statement

REUTERS/Mike Segar
Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten is seen on a video screen as she addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council about the Russian invasion of Ukraine at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., June 6, 2022.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia stormed out of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday as European Council President Charles Michel addressed the 15-member body and accused Moscow of fueling a global food crisis with its invasion of Ukraine.

Michel had also accused Russian troops of war crimes and crimes against humanity, specifically citing reports of sexual violence – the focus of the Security Council meeting – and describing it as “a tactic of torture, terror and repression.”

During his own statement earlier in the meeting, Nebenzia had “categorically refuted” any accusations of sexual violence by Russian soldiers, condemning what he said was a “lie.”

As he left the Security Council chamber during Michel’s statement, a visibly irritated Nebenzia told Reuters: “I couldn’t stay” because of “the lies that Charles Michel came here to distribute.”

Speaking directly to Nebenzia as he walked out, Michel said: “You may leave the room, maybe it’s easier not to listen to the truth.”

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has fueled a global food crisis with prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring. Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia is also a fertilizer exporter and Ukraine is an exporter of corn and sunflower oil.

“Mr. Ambassador of the Russian Federation, let’s be honest, the Kremlin is using food supplies as a stealth missile against developing countries,” Michel said in the Security Council. “Russia is solely responsible for this food crisis.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is trying to broker what he calls a “package deal” to resume Ukrainian food exports and Russian food and fertilizer exports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to visit Turkey on Wednesday to discuss unlocking grain exports from Ukraine.