The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Ukraine Monday issued a statement questioning the legitimacy of Russia’s membership in the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the UN more broadly.
According to the MFA, Russia took the seat of permanent membership of the UNSC by bypassing procedures defined in UN Charter. Ukraine noted that Article 23 under the UN Charter has the Soviet Union as the permanent member, not Russia. While that is true for the UN Charter, the UN website refers to the “Russian Federation” as a permanent member.
After the Soviet Union dissolution in 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin sent a letter to then-Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar on December 24, 1991. Subsequently, Russia took over the Soviet Union’s seat as a permanent member. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pointed out on a national television marathon that prior to this, Russia’s permanent seat was under debate in diplomacy circles. He also tweeted:
31 years ago Russia abused the UN Charter and usurped USSR’s seat at the UN Security Council — bypassing the only legitimate procedure set by the Charter. Russia’s presence at the UNSC and the UN as a whole is illegitimate.
The MFA statement also stressed the failure of Russia to go through proper procedures under Article 4 of the UN Charter. Article 4 states:
Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.
The statement went on to highlight multiple breaches of peace by Russia on different states to substantiate the fact that Russia is not a “peace-loving state” as required by Article 4. The statement made note of Russia’s refusal to comply with an order from the International Court of Justice to suspend military operations in Ukraine.
Concluding the statement, Ukraine called for the removal of Russia as a permanent member in the UNSC and the UN as a whole. Ukraine proposed to do this without having any retrospective effect on any previous decision or resolution. Further, Ukraine asked that Russia be admitted to the UN only once it complies with the criteria for UN membership.