Feb 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Congress wants to oust Russia from U.N. Security Council

The Russian ambassador to the U.N. is seen sitting next to the U.N. secretary-general.
Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nebenzya, sits next to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Feb. 23 while the Security Council debates a resolution to condemn Russia for its threats to Ukraine. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

A resolution calling to kick Russia off the U.N. Security Council for its invasion of Ukraine — which has virtually no chance of being enforced — is circulating among House members from both parties, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The development comes as a recessed Congress tries to assert its role in punishing Russia. It whiffed on passing a sanctions package before the invasion.

Driving the news: The resolution is being led by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in coordination with a House Democrat, according to Tenney's office.

  • "It’s obviously a tall effort to kick Russia off," Nick Stewart, Tenney's chief of staff, told Axios. "But, it’s one diplomatic tool we have to up the pressure and increase the isolation."
  • "It’s in a sense a messaging bill, but it also empowers our diplomatic counterparts."

The details: The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by Axios, calls for the U.N. to "take immediate procedural actions" to amend Article 23 of its charter to remove Russia as a permanent member of the Security Council.

  • The resolution argues Russia's invasion of Ukraine and support of breakaway republics "pose a direct threat to international peace and security" and "run contrary to its responsibilities and obligations as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council."

What they're saying: Several members have publicly expressed support for the idea, including Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the vice ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

  • Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, told Axios in an interview he supports the resolution as well.
  • "I think Congress should be weighing in to say these guys should be treated like the pariahs they are and they shouldn't have a seat at any table," Bacon said.
  • The resolution is being circulated to all House members in both parties, Stewart said.

Reality check: According to the U.N. charter, all permanent members of the Security Council have to sign off on any amendments, giving Russia the ability to block such a move.

  • Russia's veto on the Security Council also would allow it to block any U.N. effort to condemn or intervene in its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Causing further headaches to the West is that Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vasily Nabenzya, is serving as the panel's rotating president this month.
  • He was presiding over an emergency meeting of the council at the precise moment Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his invasion of Ukraine — triggering criticism of Russia's membership on the panel.
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