Angry Russia refuses to speak at UN meeting on its attacks on Ukraine’s key port city of Odesa

Jul 26, 2023, 3:00 PM

A church personnel inspects damages inside the Odesa Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa, Ukraine, S...

A church personnel inspects damages inside the Odesa Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa, Ukraine, Sunday, July 23, 2023, following Russian missile attacks. In just a week, Russia has fired more than 125 missiles and drones at the Odesa region, hitting the historic city center that had been largely spared since the beginning of the war. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — In an escalation of Russia’s anger at Ukraine and its Western backers, Russia refused to speak at a U.N. Security Council meeting called to discuss Moscow’s recent devastating attacks on the key port of Odesa immediately following its refusal to extend the Black Sea grain deal.

The confrontation began at the start of a council session called by Russia on the divided Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky ,protested that Britain, which holds the council presidency, was allowing only two briefers and Moscow wanted a third — Archbishop Gideon of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian government has cracked down on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church over its historic ties to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose leader, Patriarch Kirill, supported Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine.

Polyansky accused the UK of bias, censorship and obstruction for limiting the number of briefers.

Deputy British ambassador James Kariuki responded that because of a tight time schedule to fit in two council meetings, the UK had offered a compromise to allow a third Russian briefer to submit a statement to the council, which he said was “not unreasonable.”

Polyansky was not satisfied, and Kariuki then put Russia’s proposal to have the archbishop speak to a vote. Russia got support only from China and Brazil, with the 12 other council members abstaining.

Polyansky called the council’s refusal to allow the archbishop to speak an “egregious” example of double standards on human rights and freedom of religion.

As “a sign of protest,” he said, Russia wouldn’t speak in the Ukraine-backed council session called by Ukraine to take up the Odesa attacks.

The meeting on the Orthodox Church then went ahead. The director of the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, Nihal Saad, told the council that the division between Ukraine’s Orthodox bodies “has existed for decades.” But she said it has been exacerbated since the February 2022 Russian invasion and has “reverberated worldwide as Orthodox churches have struggled with how and whether to take sides.”

Saad said the “heartbreaking” damage to Odesa’s historic church, the Transfiguration Cathedral, caused by a Russian missile strike Sunday was condemned by many, including the U.N. secretary-general. The cathedral is in Odesa’s historic city center that is a UNESCO world heritage site and had been largely spared since the beginning of the war.

Saad lamented that it was one of 116 religious sites damaged since the invasion, according to a preliminary assessment by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

In her briefing, Saad cited restrictions to freedom of religion by both Russia and Ukraine since the invasion, saying “the politicization of religion in the war in Ukraine fuels intercommunal tensions, stokes fear and triggers violence.”

Polyansky called the devastation to the cathedral “a horrible tragedy” and reiterated Russia’s claim that the cathedral was damaged by a piece from Ukraine’s anti-air defenses — not a Russian missile. If a Russian missile targeted the cathedral, he said, “then there would be nothing left of the cathedral at all.”

The Russian deputy ambassador left the council chamber at the end of the session.

The council meeting that followed on the Russian attacks on Odesa came days after President Vladimir Putin pulled Russia out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a wartime deal that enabled Ukraine to export more than 32,000 tons of foodstuff to many countries facing the threat of hunger.

In addition to severely damaging the cathedral, the Russian attacks crippled significant parts of export facilities in Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk, and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain, according to Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry.

The council heard from 14 members, almost all condemning the damage to Odesa.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that “Russia is hell-bent on preventing Ukrainian grain from reaching global markets” and that “the world is paying the price for Russia’s barbaric attacks.”

She accused Russia of “weaponizing grain” and cynically using Russian-produced grain as leverage to win the support of other countries.

Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya, the last speaker, told the council that Russian missiles, including anti-ship missiles, hit 29 historical and cultural landmarks in Odesa.

He said Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, destruction of their infrastructure, obstruction of grain exports, and intimidation of foreign merchant vessels should be considered an attack on freedom of navigation.

“These actions also aim at eliminating a market competitor, deliberately raising world food prices and making a profit at the expense of the millions of people around the world who will suffer,” Kyslytsya said.

A junior Russian diplomat sat in Russia’s chair during the Odesa session and left the chamber when it ended — never having uttered a word.

National News

Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans propose impeaching top elections official after disputed vote to fire her

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A group of Republican Wisconsin lawmakers on Thursday proposed impeaching the battleground state’s top elections official as Democrats wage a legal battle to keep the nonpartisan administrator in office. Democrats say the GOP-controlled state Senate acted illegitimately when it voted along party lines last week to oust Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator […]

41 minutes ago

Associated Press

Wildfire-prone California to consider new rules for property insurance pricing

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A new plan from California’s insurance commissioner aims to stop the nation’s top insurers from leaving the wildfire-prone state by letting them consider climate risks when setting their prices. Unlike most states, California tightly restricts how insurance companies can price policies. Companies aren’t allowed to factor in current or future risks […]

44 minutes ago

Associated Press

Former Mississippi Democratic Party chair sues to reinstate himself, saying his ouster was improper

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The former chair of Mississippi’s Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit seeking to reinstate himself as its leader, arguing that he was improperly ousted in July. Tyree Irving, a former appellate judge who had chaired the state party since 2020, was voted out by a majority of party officials at a […]

2 hours ago

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch says he will step down as the leader of Fox News' parent company and h...

Associated Press

Who are Rupert Murdoch’s children? What to know about the media magnate’s successor and family

NEW YORK (AP) — Media magnate Rupert Murdoch on Monday announced that he would be stepping down as the leader of both Fox News’ parent company and his News Corp media holdings — with his son, Lachlan, set to take his place. Through his decades-long career, Murdoch, 92, built an empire — beginning with his […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Remains of Michigan soldier killed in Korean War accounted for after 73 years

DETROIT (AP) — The remains of an 18-year-old Army corporal from Detroit who was killed in the Korean War in 1950 have been identified, officials said Thursday. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Cpl. Lewis W. Hill was accounted for on May 22 after agency scientists identified his remains using dental and anthropological analysis […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

A toddler lost in the woods is found asleep using family dog as a pillow

FAITHORN, Mich. (AP) — A 2-year-old girl who walked away from her home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula alongside two family dogs was found in the woods hours later sleeping on the smaller dog like a furry pillow, state police said. “She laid down and used one of the dogs as a pillow, and the other […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Angry Russia refuses to speak at UN meeting on its attacks on Ukraine’s key port city of Odesa