More than 100 U.N. diplomats from 40 nations walked out when Russia’s foreign minister began to speak at the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. Dozens of envoys boycotted Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech in protest over the Kremlin-led invasion of Ukraine, which has entered its sixth day.
Diplomats from the United States, the European Union and the U.K. abruptly left their seats at the U.N. in Geneva, while envoys from China, Venezuela and Syria were among those who stayed seated.
Among those who walked out were Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod and Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly. “Minister Lavrov was giving his version, which is false, about what is happening in Ukraine, and so that’s why we wanted to show a very strong stance together,” Joly said following the walkout. Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, said the show of support for Ukraine was “remarkable.” Meanwhile another Ukrainian diplomat, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said he would rather listen to Russia at the international tribunal for war crimes. “Enough of exposure to the deranged lunacy of war criminals,” Kyslytsya said.
In his speech, Lavrov accused European nations of engaging in a “Russophobic frenzy” by evading “direct face-to-face dialogue” and by supplying weapons to Ukraine. He continued by stating that Russia was fulfilling its “obligations as allies and to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine.” Lavrov addressed the U.N. Human Rights Council via video link, having canceled his attendance due to EU sanctions against Russia’s use of European airspace. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Lavrov’s statement was “full of disinformation” and did not deserve the attention of other members. “Russia is isolated and should be ashamed to sit in the U.N. chamber,” she said.