US eyeing ways to strip Russia of UN influence
The US State Department may try to find a way to boot Russia from its permanent seat on the UN Security Council, shaking up the international body’s balance of power amid outrage over the war in Ukraine.
Washington is “investigating the prospects” of expelling Russia as one of the five permanent Security Council members, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told US lawmakers on Wednesday. No decision has been made on whether to try to achieve such an outcome, which would likely require changes to the UN’s charter.
Sherman’s comments came after the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia for last week’s invasion of Ukraine and demand that Moscow withdraw its forces from the former Soviet republic immediately. The rebuke was issued through a nonbinding resolution after a failed vote last Friday by the Security Council, where Russia used its veto power as a permanent member to block the resolution.
Talk of stripping Russia of its status at the UN has escalated since the Ukraine invasion began. Some US lawmakers have called for removing Russia from the Security Council.
Ukraine’s government has repeatedly urged the UN to reconsider Russia’s status on the Security Council. Kiev’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Wednesday that there should be a “thorough and unbiased” legal review of Moscow’s permanent seat. “We are confident that when the analysis is complete, it will be evident that Russia’s presence at the UN Security Council is illegitimate,” he said.
Like the US, the UK government is reportedly open to downgrading Russia’s UN status. “I think it’s something we want to discuss with the UN, obviously,” a spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday. He added, “What is right to say is that we want to see Russia isolated diplomatically, and we will consider all options to achieve that.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected the notion that it’s even possible to deprive Russia of its permanent Security Council seat. “There is no mechanism,” Moscow’s top diplomat said in an Al Jazeera interview on Wednesday. “Don’t try to explain anything to the British representatives. Their absolute inadequacy has long been well known to everyone.”
The Soviet Union was made one of five permanent members of the council when the UN was formed in 1945. Russia inherited that position when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Ukrainian officials have argued that the UN charter granted permanent council membership to the Soviet Union, so Russia’s right to the seat can be challenged.