UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (Reuters) – The United States, Britain, Albania and Malta have withdrawn Russia’s envoy for children’s rights – whom the International Criminal Court wants to arrest on war crimes charges – as she spoke by videoconference to members of the UN Security Council. Wednesday.
Britain and the United States blocked the informal meeting on Ukraine, which Russia called to focus on “evacuating children from conflict zones”, from the UN webcast.
The diplomats left the UN conference room where the discussion was taking place as Russian Commissioner Maria Lvova Belova spoke.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters that the US had joined Britain in blocking the webcast, so Lvova-Belova “didn’t have an international platform to spread disinformation and try to defend their own terrible actions that are happening in the Ukraine”.
Last month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting children from Ukraine and illegally transporting people to Russia from Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022.
Moscow said the arrest warrants were legally invalid because Russia was not a signatory to the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.
Moscow has not hidden a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but it is presenting it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the war zone.
Lvova-Belova said that since February 2022, about 5 million Ukrainians, including 700,000 children, have traveled to Russia.
About 2,000 children are from orphanages and are accompanied by guardians, she said, adding that about 1,300 of these children have since returned to Ukraine, while 400 are now in Russian orphanages and 358 children have been placed in Russian foster homes.
After Lovova Belova spoke, British diplomat Asima Gazi Bouillon said at the meeting, “Russia claims to be protecting these children. Instead, this is a calculated policy that seeks to erase Ukrainian identity and statehood.”
During her statement, Lvova-Belova showed a video of Ukrainian children in Russia, and then said: “I want to emphasize that, unlike the Ukrainian side, we do not use children for propaganda.”
Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told reporters last month that the informal meeting was scheduled long before the ICC announcement and was not intended as a refutation of the charges against Putin and Lvova Belova.
Diplomats said it was rare for a United Nations webcast to be blocked. However, last month China blocked the UN webcast of an informal Security Council meeting convened by the US on human rights abuses in North Korea.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCall
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