Mar 1, 2022 - World

Diplomats walk out on Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in protest at UN

Diplomats from mainly Western countries staged walkouts of two meetings when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began a remote address on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Ukraine's ambassador to the UN in Geneva led the walkout at the UN Human Rights Council and was followed by approximately 100 people, a council spokesperson told Axios.

  • The walkout left just a few diplomats in the room, including envoys from Russia, China, Syria and Venezuela.
  • Lavrov said that he had planned to attend the sessions but was unable to because European countries banned Russian airlines from their airspace, AP reports.

Around the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was addressing the European Parliament remotely. He received standing ovations before and after his speech.

What they're saying: During his speech to the Human Rights Council and a disarmament meeting in Geneva, Lavrov accused Ukraine of looking to acquire nuclear weapons, an unfounded claim that the Russian government has used to justify its invasion of Ukraine, per the New York Times.

  • He also said that the current "hysteria" in the U.S., NATO and the European Union confirmed that "it was and still is the aim of the U.S. and all its allies built by Washington to create an 'anti-Russia,'" the Times notes.

The walkout "demonstrates the strong unity of the international community in condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine," said Ambassador Sheba Crocker, a U.S. envoy to the UN and other international organizations in Geneva, in a statement.

  • "We are working with our partners at the Council to hold Russia accountable for the extensive human rights abuses and deteriorating humanitarian situation brought about by this unprovoked war.
  • "As each day passes it is clear that Russia is isolated and has no one but itself to blame for the situation it now finds itself in."

Go deeper: Ukraine war enters new, uglier phase

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include comment from Ambassador Sheba Crocker.

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