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Russia became the president of the UN Security Council. What does it mean and how is it perceived in the world


On April 1, Russia became president of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and will hold this position for a month. What powers will the Russian delegation receive and how did Western countries and Ukraine react to Moscow’s chairmanship of the Security Council – in the material of RTVI.

Why Russia Became President of the UN Security Council

How noted on the UN site, each member of the Security Council chairs it in turn for one month. The choice of states presiding over the Council is carried out in English alphabetical order, and so, on April 1, Russia automatically removed Mozambique from this position, and Switzerland will become its president in May. Interestingly, the last time Moscow chaired the UN Security Council was in February 2022, the month when the military conflict with Ukraine began.

Composition of the UN Security Council consists of five permanent members – China, Russia, Great Britain, United States and France, as well as ten non-permanent members – Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, Malta, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Ecuador and Japan.

Previously, the first Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyansky said that Moscow does not plan to discuss Ukraine in the Security Council, but has not excluded that this subject becomes necessary. Subsequently, Moscow announcement on the intention to hold an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on April 6 on the issue of the evacuation of children from the zone of the Russian-Ukrainian military conflict, and on April 10 take place meeting of the Russian delegation on the subject of the risks linked to violations in the field of the export of military products.

John Minchillo/AP
However, how underline Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Vasily Nebenzya, the main meetings of the Russian presidency in the Security Council will be devoted to the topics of “multipolarity”, “settlement in the Middle East” and the “problem of export of uncontrolled weapons”.
According to the permanent representative, it is also planned that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will come to the UN headquarters in New York, he will take part in some meetings. To do so, the United States will have to issue a visa to Lavrov, Nebenzia noted. How after clarified Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Foreign Minister, will lead the debate on a “Middle East settlement” on April 25.

What powers does the presidency of the UN Security Council confer?

The country presiding over the Security Council has the power to convene, open and close meetings, approve the agenda (it is prepared by the UN Secretary-General), give the floor to representatives and to sign the documents adopted. At the same time, the presiding country does not have the possibility of influencing this or that decision on the resolutions of the Security Council, even if, like any ordinary member of the Security Council, it can vote against or veto.
“The role of the head of the UN Security Council is somewhat exaggerated,” Boris Khandogiy, Ukraine’s former ambassador to the UK, told the BBC. Andrew Macleod, Visiting Professor at King’s College London, Faculty of War Studies, also Remarks that the Russian presidency of the Security Council “is in fact of little importance and is rather routine”. According to Macleod, the presidency will also give Russia no advantage in a military conflict with Ukraine.

How did the West react to this decision?

Against the background of the fact that in February 2022 Russia began hostilities against Ukraine, the transition of the presidency of the UN Security Council to Moscow caused an ambiguous and even negative reaction from Western countries.
In particular, the representative of the Foreign Policy Service of the European Union Peter Stano said RBC that because of the military conflict with Ukraine, Russia “continues to violate the Charter of the United Nations and international law and has lost all moral and other rights to sit on the United Nations Security Council” – a body that monitors compliance with the Charter of the United Nations, international law, as well as ensuring peace and stability in the world.
The BBC also notes that of president of the UN Security Council has been taken by a state against whose president the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant (the ICC suspects the president Russian Vladimir Putin of illegally deporting children from Ukraine, Moscow has declared that it does not accept the jurisdiction of this court).

Bebeto Matthews/AP
However, the United Nations Charter does not state that a country which is waging a military conflict can be limited in its rights as a member of the Security Council. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre commenting on the Russian presidency of the Security Council, underline that “unfortunately, Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, and there are no real international legal means to change this reality”.

“The reality is that (the UNSC president) is a bigger post that rotates month after month in alphabetical order,” she added.

As Jean-Pierre noted, Washington expects “Russia to continue to use its seat on the Council to spread disinformation” and justify its actions in Ukraine. The White House spokeswoman also urged Moscow to “behave professionally” as president.
Andrew MacLeod pointed out that if any of the permanent members of the Security Council “find themselves on one side or the other of the armed conflict”, then the UN Security Council “cannot do anything for the Stop”. The permanent member of the Security Council has the power of veto, which allows the draft of any UN resolution to be rejected.

For example, on February 26, 2022, two days after the outbreak of hostilities, Russia imposed vetoed a resolution aimed at ending the military conflict in Ukraine, and on September 30 blocked a resolution on the non-recognition of referendums in the DPR, LPR, as well as in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

“(The permanent members of the Security Council) will use their veto power, as Russia is currently doing vis-à-vis Ukraine, potentially China vis-à-vis Taiwan, and the Americans vis-à-vis live in Afghanistan and Iraq. So it’s a normal situation,” explained Andrew Macleod.

At the same time as writing The Guardian, the US, UK, France and their supporters in the Council are likely to disagree with the Russian presidency and lower their level of representation at events Moscow hosts later this month. . However, the publication notes that there is no talk of a boycott by members of the UN Security Council.

What does official Kiev think?

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council a “bad joke” and a “clear reminder” that “something is wrong” with the functioning of the architecture of international security.

John Minchillo/AP

“A state that systematically destroys international peace and security will lead the body responsible for maintaining it. Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council is a slap in the face of the international community,” the head of Ukraine’s foreign ministry wrote on Twitter.

Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, expressed a similar view: “(Russia’s) presidency of the UN Security Council since April 1 is a new violation of international law. A subject waging a war of aggression, violating the norms of humanitarian and criminal law, violating the UN Charter, neglecting nuclear security, cannot lead a key instance of global security,” he said.
Former Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN Serhiy Kyslitsa and Yale University Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld in an article for Time called Russian presidency by ‘ridiculing international diplomacy’: ‘Known thieves are not allowed to run banks, and those convicted of sex crimes are not assigned to run kindergartens’, they noted .
However, Ukraine has already spoken negatively about Russia’s membership in the UN – at the end of December 2022, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry announced that it had started the process of excluding Moscow from both the Council safety and the organization as a whole. According to Kuleba, in 1991 Russia “essentially just occupied the Soviet presidency of the UN”.

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

Russia Desk
Russia Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Russia Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on


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