Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Ambassadors and diplomats protest Moscow's war on Ukraine by walking out while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gives a pre-recorded video message at the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on March 1, 2022.

Ambassadors and diplomats protest Moscow's war on Ukraine by walking out while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gives a pre-recorded video message at the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on March 1, 2022. (Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfi/AFP via Getty Images)

UN Diplomats Walk Out as Russia's Lavrov Addresses Human Rights Council

The Ukrainian envoy said that this action "sends a very strong signal" to Moscow that the Russian military's ongoing invasion and assault is "not acceptable."

Kenny Stancil

To protest Moscow's war on Ukraine, roughly 100 diplomats from countries around the globe walked out of a speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Ukraine's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Yevheniia Filipenko, led the walkout, which left a mostly empty conference hall to hear Lavrov's pre-recorded video message during the council's meeting on disarmament.

The Ukrainian envoy said that this action "sends a very strong signal" to Moscow that the Russian military's ongoing invasion and assault is "not acceptable."

Lavrov said that he had planned to attend the session in person but was unable to travel to Switzerland after the European Union banned flights from Russia.

According to the New York Times:

He accused Ukraine of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, an unsubstantiated claim that Moscow has used as one of the justifications for its invasion. Ukraine gave up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for security guarantees.

Mr. Lavrov repeated the Kremlin's assertions that Ukraine had "made territorial claims against the Russian Federation, threatened to use force and acquire a military nuclear capability." In earlier comments to the Conference on Disarmament, he said that Ukraine still possessed Soviet-era technology that would enable it to deliver such weapons, adding: "We cannot fail to respond to this real danger."

Speaking just two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country's nuclear forces on special alert and one day after Belarus agreed to host Russian nuclear weapons, Lavrov said that the Kremlin believes a "nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought"—repeating a phrase adopted by Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden at a July 2021 summit.

However, the Times reported:

Lavrov added that the United States should pull its nuclear weapons out of Europe and dismantle the associated infrastructure.

The current "hysteria" in 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,'" he said.

Lavrov's remarks came just before the Russian Defense Ministry warned Kyiv residents to leave their homes immediately as Russia's forces advanced on the Ukrainian capital and announced plans to bomb targets in the city.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Russian missile struck the main square of Kharkiv, killing at least seven people, injuring dozens, and damaging an administrative building in Ukraine's second-largest city.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Urged to Sign Executive Order Guaranteeing Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

After the president brokered a compulsory contract without a single paid day off for illness, one labor advocate implored him to "put up or shut up about how you really want them to have sick leave!"

Brett Wilkins ·


Campaigners Demand Deep Cuts to Plastic Production as Global Treaty Negotiations Ramp Up

"The scale of the problem is mind-boggling," said one advocate. "Plastic is in our blood. It's in fetuses. It's really encroaching on every aspect of human existence."

Julia Conley ·


Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·


A Labor Revolt Is Brewing... Inside the National Labor Relations Board

"From Congress, we demand funds, not furloughs," says the NLRB union. "From NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, we demand collaboration, not coercion."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo