Diplomats from all over the world walk out on Russian foreign minister ahead of speech

United Nations (UN) diplomats representing almost a quarter of member nations walked out in protest Tuesday during a session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The council was meeting in the UN’s Geneva location when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared via remote video. Lavrov had been slated to speak in person, but canceled his visit citing European Union (EU) states prohibiting his flight path.

Lavrov accused the EU of a “Russophobic frenzy” in his speech due to their continued supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. His speech prompted an exodus out of the chamber as diplomats refused to give audience to his message.

Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Austria’s permanent representative to the UN, filmed the proceeding and posted it to social media.

“This morning in the UN Human Rights Council,” Tichy-Fisslberger wrote, “more than 140 diplomats refused to listen to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s futile attempt to justify unacceptable military aggression.”

Jamil Chade, a European correspondent for Brazil shared the view from inside the chamber.

“At this moment,” Chade wrote, “governments in various parts of the world boycott Lavrov’s speech at the UN and leave the room while Russian talks about human rights. Brazil chooses not to boycott and remains in the room.”

The scores of diplomats that did walkout represented roughly 40 countries including the United States, Britain, Japan and Canada, Reuters reported. Along with Brazil, the Syrian, Chinese and Venezuelan envoys were some of those that remained behind with Russian ambassador Gennady Gatilov.

Ukrainian ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko stated, “It is a remarkable show of support for the Ukrainians who are fighting for their independence,” while discussing the impact Russian attacks have had on civilian infrastructure, residential buildings and even maternity wards.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said, “Minister Lavrov was giving his version, which is false, about what is happening in Ukraine and so that’s why we wanted to show a very strong stance together.” Canada intends to petition the International Criminal Court to investigate Russia for “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

The United States envoy, Michele Taylor, issued a statement on the gravity of the situation. “This Russian war of aggression,” Taylor said, “will have profound implications for human rights in Ukraine and Russia, and the leaders of Russia will be held accountable.”

This public display of opposition followed a rare emergency special session of the UN General Assembly Monday called to decide whether Russia should be stripped of their vote on the UN Security Council. That vote was cast 29 in favor, five opposed, and 13 abstentions calling for a debate on Thursday.

Even historically neutral Switzerland imposed financial sanctions against Russia Monday, adding further credence to the global unity in support of Ukraine.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) shared a video or protestors Tuesday highlighting that unity writing, “#Putin isn’t fighting just a military in #Ukraine – He is fighting over 40 million people in a war that will never end and he can never win.”

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