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Ukraine updates: Russia takes UN Security Council presidency

April 1, 2023

Moscow will hold the UN Security Council's rotating presidency for the month of April. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has vowed to increase munitions supplies to Russian forces in Ukraine. DW has the latest.

UN Security Council meeting at UN headquarters in New York
Russia is set to assume the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of AprilImage: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Russia is scheduled to take on the presidency of the UN Security Council on Saturday.

A day earlier, the Kremlin said Russia plans to exercise all the rights afforded by the role.

Meanwhile, the United States urged Russia to "conduct itself professionally" while holding the position. The US said that there was no way to prevent Russia from assuming the presidency.

UN member states take on the rotating presidency of the Security Council in alphabetical order according to the English-language names of each country.

The council's presidency will be held by Russia for the month of April, after which it will be replaced by Switzerland. Russia's presidency follows that of Mozambique.

Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's chief of staff, said that this represented a "symbolic blow to the rules-based system of international relations."

"It is very telling that on the holiday of one terror state — Iran — another terror state — Russia — begins to preside over the UN Security Council," Yermak said, referring to the Islamic Republic Day observed in Iran.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia's presidency a "slap in the face to the international community." He urged Security Council members to "thwart any Russian attempts to abuse its presidency," calling Russia an "outlaw."

Ukraine has accused Tehran of supplying Russia with arms.

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Saturday, April 1:

Russian presidency at UNSC is largely symbolic: British expert

Mike Martin, a research fellow at King's College London, told DW that Russian presidency was largely symbolic and had little actual application on the battlefield.

According to Martin, over the last year there have been two wars in Ukraine: the war of rhetoric and the war actually fought on the ground over territory. "There's been lots of talk of all sorts of things, and most of them haven't come to pass," he says, recalling, for example, Russian nuclear threats.

That's why Martin doesn't think the Russian presidency of the UN Security Council will matter very much on the ground, where the real battle is being fought.

"Russia can set the agenda of the Security Council... but three of the other members of the Security Council, Britain, France and the US are firmly on Ukraine's side. They all have veto power," Martin says.

The same had applied in reverse prior to Russia taking over the rotating presidency  efforts to condemn Russia's invasion would regularly falter because Moscow has veto power.

Zelenskyy says Russian UN Security Council presidency is absurd

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was absurd that Russia had assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, adding this showed the institution's "total bankruptcy."

On Saturday Russia took over the presidency of the UN's top security body, which rotates every month. The last time Moscow held the post was in February 2022, when its troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"Unfortunately, we ... have some obviously absurd and destructive news," Zelenskyy said in an evening video address, adding that Russian shelling had killed a five-month-old boy on Friday.

"And at the same time Russia is chairing the UN Security Council. It's hard to imagine anything that proves more the total bankruptcy of such institutions," he added.

Ukraine issues new sanctions on supporters of Russia's invasion

Ukraine has issued further sanctions against people and companies from Russia as well as against a company on Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy published a decree levying sanctions against hundreds of companies, organizations and individuals who have allegedly supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In most cases, the sanctions apply for a period of 10 years.

The directors of armaments factories and military research institutions are particularly affected. However, sanctions are also being imposed on the Russian Ministry of Finance and the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament.

The Ukrainian sanctions also list the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Iran is suspected of supplying Russia with so-called kamikaze drones for use in airstrikes against Ukraine.

North Korea says Ukraine seeking to acquire nuclear weapons

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, has accused Ukraine of having nuclear ambitions.

Kim Yo Jong based the claim on an online petition which calls for Ukraine to station nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory or alternatively to acquire its own nuclear weapons.

In Ukraine, petitions need to garner 25,000 signatures within 90 days for a response from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The petition was filed on Friday and had received 640 signatures by Saturday afternoon.

Kim said that the petition could be a political plot by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office.

The petition follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that Moscow plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

North Korea is seeking to expand its own nuclear stockpile and has engaged in a number of ballistic missile tests over the past year.

Ukrainian police search Orthodox monk's home

Metropolitan Pavlo said police had searched his home over a stand-off between authorities and the  Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv.

"They told me in two words that I am suspected of working for Russia," said in a video released by Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.

RBK-Ukraina said the cleric was suspected of "inciting inter-religious discord" and "justifying the Russian Federation's military aggression."

Later on Saturday, the court in Kyiv placed him under house arrest for 60 days.

Metropolitan Pavlo belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was traditionally under the Russia-based Moscow Patriarchate. It split from the Russian church following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukrainian authorities suspect the church of espionage and agitation for Moscow.

The church is separate from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was established in 2018 and is the predominant denomination in the country.

Russian winter offensive has 'failed' — UK intelligence

An intelligence update from the British Defense Ministry says that Moscow has made only "marginal" gains in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

The ministry said the tenure of Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who took office in January, has been "characterized by an effort to launch a general winter offensive with the aim of extending Russian control over the whole of the Donbas region."

"Eighty days on, it is increasingly apparent that this project has failed," the intelligence update said.

The ministry said that Russian forces had sustained tens of thousands of casualties. It argued that Russia is "largely squandering its temporary advantage in personnel gained from the autumn's 'partial mobilisation.'"

In September, Moscow announced a "partial" mobilization of reservists, adding 300,000 troops to its forces.

The British intelligence update said that there is "a realistic possibility that Gerasimov is pushing the limits of how far Russia's political leadership will tolerate failure."

Kyiv orders 100 armored vehicles — Polish PM Morawiecki

Ukraine's government has requested the delivery of 100 Rosomak multi-purpose armored vehicles from Poland, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

"I bring an order placed yesterday by (Ukrainian) Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal for 100 Rosomaks that will be fabricated here," Morawiecki said.

The vehicles are made in Poland under a Finnish license. The order will be jointly financed through EU funds received by Warsaw and US funds received by Kyiv, Morawiecki said.

Russia's Shoigu promises munitions to troops

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has vowed to increase munitions supplies to Russian forces in Ukraine.

Shoigu was shown making the statement in a video of him visiting the headquarters of Russian troops in Ukraine published by the Defense Ministry.

The minister said: "The volume of supplies of the most demanded ammunition has been determined. Necessary measures are being taken to increase them."

Russia's Defense Ministry has been criticized by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, for allegedly failing to supply sufficient munitions to troops.

Bucha: 'There was a feeling something horrible would happen'

Olympics committee condemns Kyiv's boycott of Russian, Belarusian players

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has criticized a Ukrainian government decision not to allow Ukrainian athletes to participate in events including Belarusian and Russian players.

Ukrainian government minister Oleh Nemchinov announced the decision on Friday. The IOC has allowed Russians and Belarusians to participate in qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Olympics as "neutral" athletes without flags or anthems..Ukrainian officials are set to make a decision on participation in the Paris Games at a later date.

"If implemented, such a decision would only hurt the Ukrainian athlete community, and in no way impact the war that the world wants to stop, and that the IOC has so vehemently condemned," the committee said.

"The IOC has always maintained that it is not up to governments to decide which athletes can participate in which international competitions," the committee added. "Due to the fact that there are, unfortunately, far too many wars, armed conflicts and crises in this world, we have seen in almost all editions of the Games athletes compete with each other despite the fact that their nations are at war or in conflict."

dh,sdi/jcg,sms (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)