Russia has veto power in the United Nations Security Council — severely limiting the chance that the international body will intervene to stop Russia’s mobilization of troops in Crimea. Nonetheless, the 15-member Security Council has met several times since Ukraine’s anti-government protests began three months ago. On March 3 they met, at Russia’s behest, to again spar in preprepared statements over Ukraine’s political future and international law. ICYMI, here’s a roundup of the seven most memorable moments.
1. When Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin held up a letter he said Ukraine’s ousted president wrote, in which the embattled Ukrainian leader asked Russia to send its military to restore law and order in Ukraine.
Churkin quoted from former president Viktor Yanukovych’s letter: “People are being persecuted for language and political reasons. So in this regard I would call on the president of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine.” He continued, “Under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terror and violence.” The letter is reportedly dated March 1, the day Putin ordered troops to Crimea, and days after Yanukovych was ousted.
2. When U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power called out Russia: “What is happening today is not a human rights protection mission and it is not a consensual intervention. What is happening today is a dangerous military intervention in Ukraine.”
Power continued, “Russia has every right to wish that events in Ukraine had turned out differently. But it does not have the right to express that unhappiness by using military force or by trying to convince the world community that up is down and black is white.” Power also criticized Russia’s breach of U.N. agreements and the Helsinki commitment, which codifies Ukraine’s sovereignty. Churkin later rebuffed Power’s rebuttal by saying she must be brainwashed by the American media’s portrayal of Ukraine.
3. When the British ambassador to the U.N. and his hipster glasses also called Russia out for distorting reality: “It is clear that these claims [of terrorism toward ethnic Russians in Ukraine] have simply been fabricated to justify Russian military action.”
At the same time, the U.K. is reportedly against European Union sanctions, which analysts say could deal a big blow to Russia’s economy — but also keep Russian money out of London.
4. When French Ambassador Gerard Araud got personal about his childhood: “We are hearing the voice of the past. I was 15 years old when Soviet forces entered Czechoslovakia. It was the same justification.”
5. When Chile’s Ambassador to the U.N. Octavio Errazuriz was the cutest Security Council member in the room.
Chile is currently one of 10 nonpermanent members in the Security Council. Errazuriz cited the 1994 Budapest memorandum, which, along with several other charters, codified Ukraine’s independence from Russia. He argued, “We repeat once again that there is an obligation to respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine in accordance with with the provisions of the charters of the United Nation’s charter.”
6. When Ukraine upped its game in response to Russia’s claim that it must intervene to protect Russian speakers from violence: “I’m also a Russian-speaking person and I don’t need your protection,” Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N. Yuriy Sergeyev said.
He gave his remarks in both Ukrainian and Russian.