Vladimir Putin wanted to humiliate the UN by bombing Kiev during a visit by its Secretary-General, António Guterres, and accused President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Kremlin’s message seemed clear: this institution, born of World War II, which promised that future generations would not suffer the scourge of war, could do nothing to stop Russian rule. The dream of a world order dominated by unanimity and international law may have been dealt a death blow.
“Immediately after the end of our talks in Kiev, Russian missiles flew into the city. Five missiles,” the Ukrainian president stressed in front of the cameras on Thursday after meeting with Guterres. “
The Kremlin, which has already admitted to hitting Kiev on Thursday, said it used long-range, high-precision missiles aimed at military targets, namely a missile factory. However, it is difficult to explain how among the dead was 55-year-old Ukrainian journalist Vira Hyrych, who worked behind the curtain on the Iron Curtain in Radio Free Europe, created during the Cold War in the United States. The reporter’s body was found the morning after the attack in the ruins of his apartment, which had been hit by Russian missiles.
“We have lost a dear colleague who will be remembered for his professionalism and dedication to our mission,” said Jamie Fly, President of Radio Free Europe. “We are shocked and furious at the absurd nature of his death at his home, in the country and in the city he loved,” he continued. “His memory inspires our work in Ukraine.”
The UN is paralyzed
Guterres arrived in Kiev amid fierce criticism of his own performance during this war, but also against the organization he led. His delay in going to the field or the Kremlin’s choice as the first target even before leaving for Zelensky caused a stir, as did the difficulty for the UN to even take on the role of mediator, and was eventually overtaken. The administration of the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which received both parties in Istanbul.
However, many observers point out that even if Guterres had another presentation, the United Nations would still have difficulty operating in these circumstances. “It’s wrong to think of inaction as something completely new,” he wrote in Time magazine. “Indeed, there have been exceptional moments in the history of the UN when a consensus was reached between the P5 – the states officially recognized as nuclear-weapon states – to maintain international order with one of them involved.”
The problem is structural. In the West, there were still voices calling on the UN to send peacekeepers to Ukraine to protect civilians’ access to humanitarian aid and to try to maintain some respect for their fundamental rights. Of course, this has not happened and is not expected to be possible. Peace operations are conducted by the Security Council, of which Russia, such as the United States, China, the United Kingdom and France, has a veto.
“The Security Council did not do its utmost to prevent and end this war,” Guterres himself admitted alongside Zelensky. “I know that words of solidarity are not enough,” said the secretary-general, who wants to focus two months after the attack began on “the needs on the ground and the measurement of operations.”
It is a paralysis that threatens to destroy the United Nations, where parallels are increasingly drawn to the League of Nations, the first attempt to create a rules-based world order, the predecessor of the United Nations, and disbanded after failing to prevent II. World war.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “is not just another war. This conflict is shaking a system that is violating a system with enormous consequences,” warned Mark Malloch-Brown, former UN Under-Secretary-General, President of the Open Society Foundations, Radio Free Europe quotes . Even the expulsion of Russia from the UN – which required it not to veto its expulsion in the Security Council – may not solve the problem, added Richard Gowan of the International Crisis Group.
“Most U.S. and other diplomats recognize that pushing Russia out of the tent in the long run would be more destructive than positive,” Gowan explained. “Just like when Japan, Germany and Italy knocked on the door of the League of Nations.”
The problem is that the decay of the UN is not new. And it’s no surprise that so many developing countries are hesitant to close their ranks against Russia, especially those that have suffered from Washington’s unipolar world rule, complained Nema Gardels, Noema’s leader.
“When Putin mocks allegations that his attack was illegal, his mocking smile fully understands all those who opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq without UN approval,” Gardels wrote. “And the more cynical the world becomes about the possibility of establishing a ‘rules-based global order’ that would apply to great powers as much as any other state, the more that those powers will have the opportunity to act. With impunity.” .