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Russian charged with war crimes may brief U.N. Security Council

Published 04/03/2023, 05:11 PM
Updated 04/04/2023, 06:09 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Representatives observe a minute of silence during a meeting at the United Nations Security Council, to mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine, at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., February 24, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia's commissioner for children's rights, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, is likely to brief an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council this week, according to a note seen by Reuters on Monday.

Russia, which holds the monthly rotating presidency of the 15-member body for April, told council members in a note that it plans to hold an informal meeting on Wednesday on Ukraine, focused on "evacuating children from conflict zone."

"Participants will hear 'first hand' information from the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights of the Russian Federation, as well as from children evacuated from the conflict area," read the note.

The commissioner is Maria Lvova-Belova. The International Criminal Court (ICC) last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine, as well as the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.

"They cannot invite a credible briefer because they do not have any credibility on this issue," Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador James Kariuki told Reuters in a statement. "Russian leaders have been charged by the ICC with unlawfully deporting children from Ukraine to Russia. That is a war crime."

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday that the meeting briefers would be announced shortly. Such meetings are held at U.N. headquarters, but not in the Security Council chamber, and briefings can be done virtually.

'APRIL FOOL'S JOKE'

Moscow has not concealed a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

Nebenzia told reporters last month that the informal meeting of Security Council members to be held on Wednesday had been planned long before the ICC announcement and it was not intended to be a rebuttal of the charges against Putin and Lvova-Belova.

While a feature of Russia's presidency, members do not need to be the rotating monthly president to hold such meetings.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to travel to New York to chair formal Security Council meetings later in the month on the Middle East and on "effective multilateralism through the defense of the principles of the U.N. Charter."

The 193-member U.N. General Assembly has criticized Russia for violating the founding U.N. Charter by invading its neighbor and called for a "comprehensive, just and lasting peace" in line with the principles of the U.N. Charter.

© Reuters. Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova speaks during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, April 4, 2023. A headline on a screen reads:

Given Russia's Security Council presidency started on April 1, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters on Monday: "It's like an April Fool's joke ... We expect that they will behave professionally."

"But we also expect that they will use their seat to spread disinformation and to promote their own agenda as it relates to Ukraine, and we will stand ready to call them out at every single moment that they attempt to do that," she said.

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