‘All lives are priceless’: Russian ambassador interrupts minute’s silence for Ukraine

World

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations has interrupted a minute’s silence for Ukraine as members of the Security Council stood up to honour the “victims of aggression” in the war.

Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed those gathered in New York before calling for the silence to be observed as a mark of respect for Ukrainians who had died.

But as representatives got to their feet, Russia’s ambassador Vasily Nebenzya repeatedly tapped his microphone.

After being given the floor to make a statement, Mr Nebenzya said: “We are getting up on our feet to remember all victims of what has happened in Ukraine, starting in 2014.

“All of those who perished, all lives are priceless.”

Zelenskyy describes his toughest moment during conflict – follow live war updates

Mr Nebenzya was likely referring to the Russian lives which have been lost while fighting in Ukraine since Moscow’s forces invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

The tense moment came before Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy spoke in a news conference to mark the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in what would be a huge moment, Mr Zelenskyy has said he plans to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

He did not say when such a meeting could take place.

“I plan to meet Xi Jinping and believe this will be beneficial for our countries and for security in the world,” he said.

China has close ties with Russia, but has aimed to present itself as a potential peace broker in recent days – and today set out a 12-point “peace plan”.

Mr Zelenskyy told the news conference in Kyiv that China has “started talking about Ukraine” and that “this is not bad”.

He added that a statement from China suggested the country respected Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”.

The president’s comments come as Western powers fear China will begin supplying Russia with weapons.

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Chinese arms could fuel the war?

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he supports Mr Zelenskyy’s calls for “China to engage with Ukraine” over the Russian war.

In Kyiv, Sky’s security and defence editor Deborah Haynes asked Mr Zelenskyy if Ukraine can achieve victory on the battlefield or whether they will have to negotiate and possibly compromise with Russia to bring about an end to the war.

The Ukrainian president replied: “Everybody has seen that they kill people, they torture people, and they are not even trying to hide their attacks.

“They are talking about nuclear matters. They decided to take Iranian drones and kill civilians, and those civilians did not have guns in their hands, they had their children in their hands.”

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, led the minute's silence before it was interrupted. Pic: AP
Image:
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, second from left, led the minute’s silence before it was interrupted. Pic: AP

He added: “Do you think we Ukrainians can sit and negotiate with all of this? We call this phenomenon Russianism.

“We need to start from scratch, we need to go back to what was violated. Our right to live on our land needs to be respected.

“Leave our territory, withdraw, stop shelling us, stop killing civilians, stop destroying our infrastructure, our energy sector, portable water.

“Stop airstrikes on the city, stop killing dogs, cats, animals. Stop burning the forest.”

He added that only when Russia “stops doing all of that” can it be considered how the war might end diplomatically.

Mr Zelenskyy also told those gathered that victory over Russia was “inevitable” if all of Ukraine’s partners did their “homework”.

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Russian ambassador: ‘You give preference to Ukraine’

The Ukrainian president also said he wants Latin America, Africa, China and India to participate in helping to bring about peace in Ukraine.

“These countries are also very important,” he said, adding he would like to organise a summit with the Latin American countries and Ukraine.

Mr Zelenskyy was earlier asked about Russian war crimes and whether those accused could be tried in Ukraine.

He said a special tribunal and mechanism is needed for Russia to get real “accountability” for its actions during the conflict.

“It’s huge work, and we are working on it,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

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Journalist asks Zelenskyy for a selfie

The Ukrainian leader was also asked about the moment of the war he found most difficult.

The room went silent as he replied.

“I think Bucha,” he said. “The moment we de-occupied Bucha. It was horrible. What we’ve seen… the devil is not somewhere below us – he’s among us.”

The town of Bucha, in the Kyiv region, was the site of a massacre of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war.

Ukrainian authorities say the bodies of 458 people were found in a mass grave after Russian troops departed.

Mr Zelenskyy was also asked what he thought his biggest mistake was and if anyone from his country had disappointed him.

“I’d like to start with the ones who disappointed me,” he said.

“All those who left on 24 February… all those who left Kyiv, all those who were leaving cities and towns… all those who were supposed to fight for this country, who were supposed to take care of the security of this country.”

Read more:
What happened in Bucha and did Russian soldiers commit war crimes?

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‘It’s not life, it’s hell’: Sky’s Alex Rossi reports from the Donbas region

On the question of his own mistake, Mr Zelenskyy said he did not know.

“I’m working from early morning to late night, I’m a living person and no matter how some might think of that, I make choices, I am convinced I’m making mistakes from time to time.”

Meanwhile, a journalist from Azerbaijan took a selfie with Mr Zelenskyy in the middle of a news conference.

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The reporter asked Mr Zelenskyy a question before saying his son had asked him to get a photo with him.

Mr Zelenskyy appeared happy to do so and smiled for the snap.

The Ukrainian president then said: “We’ll start with what your son has asked, then get to the question you asked.”

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