More than a year after it started, the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, leaving a murky but significant death toll and prompting the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It's business as usual, however, at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia is poised to step in Saturday as the body's temporary president, as per a standard rotation that has each of the council's 15 members taking the helm for a month before passing the baton to the next leader. It's a development that Ukraine isn't happy with, for obvious reasons, though it doesn't seem there's a lot anyone can do about it at the moment.
"A bad joke" is how Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba framed it Thursday on Twitter, insisting that "Russia has usurped its seat," as "it's waging a colonial war," per the Hill. "They're taking the level of absurdity to a new level," says Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine's permanent representative, per the Guardian, which notes it "seems like a cruel April Fools'" prank—especially since the council's main responsibility is "prevention of conflicts and then dealing with conflicts," according to the outlet. The monthly rotation of the council's presidency goes in alphabetical order among members. Russia last held the lead seat's gavel in February 2022—the month it began its incursion into Ukraine.
"We urge Russia to conduct itself professionally," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a Thursday news briefing, per Reuters, adding that "we expect Russia to keep using its council seat to disseminate "disinformation." Russia is just one of five permanent Security Council members, along with the US, the UK, China, and France, and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon. There's "no feasible international legal pathway [that] exists to change that reality," Jean-Pierre said. ABC News reports there is a group of diplomats and attorneys that's formed a proposal to block Russia's temporary leadership role, as well as try to yank its permanent membership, but it's not clear how likely it is that their attempt will be successful. (Read more UN Security Council stories.)