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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on members of the UN Security Council to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning that the Kremlin leader’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation attempts by much of its territory threatened to destroy the international order.

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Putin is pushing four Kremlin-controlled territories of Ukraine to hold contested votes for annexation to the Russian Federation from September 23 amid the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II.

“The very international order that we have gathered here to defend is being torn apart before our eyes. We can’t — we won’t — allow President Putin to get away with this,” Blinken said Sept. 22 in New York.

Blinken said international support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is aimed at protecting an international order, in which no nation can redraw another’s borders by force.

“If we fail to defend this principle, when the Kremlin violates it so blatantly, we send the message to aggressors everywhere that they can ignore it too. We are putting every country at risk,” he said.

He said Putin was “violently uprooting” thousands of Ukrainians and bringing in Russian citizens to manipulate the results of this week’s vote on annexation, calling it an “evil strategy”.

The top US diplomat also told the Security Council that there was “growing” evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and said he supported international efforts to collect and examine the evidence.

He described the violence as a “pattern” of Russian soldiers’ behavior and not as isolated acts of rogue units.

The UN “must hold the perpetrators accountable for these crimes”, he said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan were due to brief the 15-member Security Council on investigations into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and representatives from several EU states and Belarus were due to speak.

Ukraine’s chief war crimes prosecutor is reportedly investigating nearly 26,000 alleged war crimes since the Russian invasion in February. Ukraine has charged 135 people with war crimes and officials recently said they discovered new mass graves containing bodies, some with their hands tied behind their backs, when Ukrainian forces retook the town of Izyum in the eastern Ukraine, during a major counter-offensive.

Russia has denied targeting civilians during what it calls its “special military operation”, describing the accusations of human rights abuses as a smear campaign.

The September 22 meeting marks the 20th time the Security Council has met to discuss the war in Ukraine this year. But despite Russia’s unprovoked invasion and subsequent accusations that its forces committed war crimes, the Security Council was unable to take meaningful action against Moscow because of Russia’s veto power. Russia as one of the body’s five permanent members.

Ukrainian President Zelenskiy has called for Russia to be stripped of its veto power.

In a pre-recorded message to the General Assembly on September 21, Zelenskiy demanded that a special United Nations tribunal impose “just punishment” on Russia for its invasion.

Earlier in the day, US President Joe Biden said Moscow “shamelessly violated fundamental principles” of the UN Charter with its “brutal and unnecessary war”.

China, which enjoys friendly relations with Moscow and also holds veto power as a permanent member of the Security Council, will also be represented at the September 22 meeting.

During a discussion on the sidelines of the General Assembly on September 21, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Lavrov that his country would maintain an “objective” and “fair” position regarding the war in Ukraine, which is the one of China’s major trading partners.

On the same day, China called for a “ceasefire through dialogue” and respect for the “territorial integrity” of all countries.

The comments by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin came after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial military mobilization to bolster his forces in Ukraine.

Putin’s decree follows the September 20 announcement that Russian-occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine plan to hold votes on their incorporation into Russia.

The decision to hold referendums, which contradict international law and the UN Charter and which Western countries have already refused to recognize, is due to start on September 23 in the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya. All regions are partially controlled by Russian forces and are areas where Moscow has recently lost territorial gains.

Parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which collectively make up Ukraine’s Eastern Donbass region, have been under Russian-imposed administration since Moscow-backed separatist forces began fighting Kyiv in 2014.

Putin said his goal was to “liberate” Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, claiming without providing any evidence that most people in the region did not want to return to what he called the “yoke” of Israel. Ukraine.

With information from Reuters and AFP

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