[guest post by Dana]
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Frankly, it’s still shocking that the Russian Federation was ever voted on to such a council in the first place…
In a follow-up to whether the U.N. would vote to eject Russia from their Human Rights Council, well, they ended up doing the right thing:
The United Nations suspended Russia from its seat on the Human Rights Council on Thursday as the world calls out atrocities committed in Ukraine.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield introduced the proposal earlier in the week following accusations that Russian troops tortured and killed Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, a suburb near Kyiv.
The bodies were discovered after Moscow withdrew its troops from Bucha. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the aftermath, which he saw firsthand on Monday, as a “genocide” and accused Russia of war crimes. The Kremlin has previously described its military actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” and has denied targeting civilians.
Thomas-Greenfield said Tuesday that Russia’s membership on the council hurts its credibility, “undermines the entire U.N. and it is just plain wrong.”
Before the vote took place, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya spoke up and pushed for countries to vote for the resolution to suspend Russia:
Bucha and dozens of other Ukrainian cities and villages, where thousands of peaceful residents have been killed, tortured, raped, abducted and robbed by the Russian Army, serve as an example of how dramatically far the Russian Federation has gone from its initial declarations in the human rights domain. That is why this case is unique and today’s response is obvious and self-explanatory.
Russia, of course, did not take the ejection in stride:
Speaking after the vote, Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Gennady Kuzmin described the move as an “illegitimate and politically motivated step” and then announced that Russia had decided to quit the Human Rights Council altogether.
“You do not submit your resignation after you are fired,” Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told reporters.
Not said is that the addition of the Russian Federation to the council is what hurt the organization’s credibility in the first place. That we’re nearly seven weeks into the war before the vote took place is another marker.
Meanwhile, at least three western allies are declining to eject Russian diplomats from their countries:
Britain, Canada and Australia have so far declined to expel Russian diplomats, in contrast with 15 EU nations that have now evicted more than 200 in response to alleged war crimes in Ukraine, The Guardian reports.
In the previous two months another 200 Russian diplomats have been expelled.
The UK’s reluctance to act was despite a warning from its foreign secretary, Liz Truss, who said the “age of engagement” with Russia is over.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended the decision, saying it was likely Russia would retaliate with a reciprocal measure.
He said he was not sure if the “symbolic gesture” would be worth having Canadian diplomats ejected from the country.
Britain previously expelled 23 Russian diplomats in 2018 after the Kremlin would not explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.
In the last week Poland, Germany, France, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Latvia, Greece, Portugal, Estonia, Ireland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria and Luxembourg have all expelled Russian diplomats.
Additionally, another vote related to an investigation of war crimes by Russia took place in the House. The no votes were unsurprising (with one exception*):
The House on Wednesday passed a bill that would direct President Biden to prepare a report on the government’s efforts to collect and examine evidence related to war crimes and other atrocities committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bipartisan legislation, dubbed the Ukraine Invasion War Crimes Deterrence and Accountability Act, passed the lower chamber in a 418-7 vote, with all those in opposition belonging to the Republican Party.
GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Scott Perry (Pa.) all opposed the bill.
*Rep. Liz Cheney mistakenly voted to oppose the bill, only to issue a statement later clarifying the mistaken vote.