The European Council president has backed Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s statement that Russia’s permanent place on the United Nations Security Council must be questioned because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Charles Michel told the UN General Assembly yesterday that Russia should be suspended from the UN Security Council for going to war in Ukraine.
“When a permanent member of the Security Council launches an unprovoked and unjustifiable war ... which is condemned by the General Assembly, that warrants suspension from the Security Council,” said Mr Michel. “That, in my view, should be automatic.”
Mr Michel is the former prime minister of Belgium and has headed the European Council, which decides the European Union’s political priorities, since 2019.
Speaking in New York a few hours earlier, Mr Martin called for reform of the Security Council at the highest level, saying Russia’s use of the veto is not acceptable.
“I believe it is called into question,” he said. “That a member of the Security Council with veto powers can wage such an unjust war, which is such a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, does call Russia’s membership of the security council into question.”
He recalled how a year ago, Ireland challenged the council to take on its responsibilities to address the impact of climate change on global peace and security.
Some 113 countries supported that call, with Russia the sole veto.
He said that Ireland has never refused people fleeing persecution, but it is unclear whether Ireland could accept any of the thousands of young men who are fleeing Russia, as Germany has done.
“I think we’d have to assess all of that,” he said.
“I mean, in the first instance, we are accepting Ukrainian families who are fleeing war. That has been a priority for us, along with normal asylum-seeking applicants, which is kind of way up this year.”
That influx is putting a lot of pressure on the country, Mr Martin said.
“So we have to work within our capacities, to be frank,” he said.
“We play a role internationally in terms of people of conscience, who have stood up to regimes. But clearly, there are a lot of challenges there.”
Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov hit back claiming it was “regrettable” that the Taoiseach did not mention that for eight years “Russian-speaking people of Donbas have been deprived of their fundamental rights and freedoms; above all — the right to live”.
“They have had to defend themselves against nationalistic, anti-Russian government in Kiev, which has waged war on them, put them under blockade in an attempt of forced Ukrainization,” he claimed.
“Now that the Eastern Ukraine is voting in the referenda to retain their way of life and to join Russia, Taoiseach is calling it a sham.
“It would be only fair to remind that it was the US and their NATO allies who supported and nurtured this kind of Kiev regime, with the strategic aim to create anti-Russia on our border,” he concluded.