The United States, Britain, Albania and Malta walked out on Russia’s envoy for children’s rights – whom the International Criminal Court wants to arrest on war crimes charges – as she spoke by video to U.N. Security Council members on Wednesday.
Britain and the United States blocked the informal meeting on Ukraine, convened by Russia to focus on “evacuating children from conflict zones,” from being webcast by the United Nations.
The diplomats left the U.N. conference room where the discussion was being held as Russian Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova spoke.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters that the United States joined Britain in blocking the webcast so Lvova-Belova did not have “an international podium to spread disinformation and to try to defend her horrible actions that are taking place in Ukraine.”
The International Criminal Court last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting children from Ukraine and the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 2022.
Moscow said the warrants were legally void as Russia was not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC.
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 war zone.
Lvova-Belova said that since February 2022, some 5 million Ukrainians, including 700,000 children, had traveled to Russia.
Some 2,000 children were from orphanages and accompanied by custodians, she said, adding that about 1,300 of those children had since returned to Ukraine, while 400 were now in Russian orphanages and 358 children were placed in Russian foster homes.
“Russia claims it is protecting these children. Instead this is a calculated policy that seeks to erase Ukrainian identity and statehood,” British diplomat Asima Ghazi-Bouillon told the meeting, returning to the room after Lvova-Belova had spoken.
During her statement Lvova-Belova showed video of Ukrainian children in Russia, then said: “I want to stress that unlike the Ukrainian side, we don’t use children for propaganda.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters last month that the informal meeting 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.
Diplomats have said it is rare for a U.N. webcast to be blocked. However, last month China blocked the U.N. webcast of a U.S.-convened informal Security Council meeting on human rights abuses in North Korea.