On February 1, Russia will assume the presidency of the UN Security Council based on the standard protocol that rotates the presidency every 30 days following the alphabetical system.
Amid the tension created between Russia, Ukraine and NATO members, notably the United States, over the alleged imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s government will be in charge of one of the UN’s most powerful international bodies.
The security council is responsible for making decisions that affect international security and has powers that include the ability to authorize or veto military action among its members.
The body has 15 member states of which five are permanent and ten elected each term. China, Russia, the United States, France and the United Kingdom are the permanent members.
Norway, which currently holds the presidency of the council and is a NATO member, criticized Putin’s government for mobilizing its military to the border with Ukraine, saying that doing so shows a ‘sign of weakness’ from the Kremlin which has to use its military to show its political posturing.
While the Russian designation is the result of standard protocol, the announcement comes at a time of extreme uncertainty.
The Biden administration responded in writing today Jan. 27 to the Russian government which had demanded during a meeting in Geneva last week that they not allow Ukraine or any other former Soviet Union country to join NATO and that NATO troops be withdrawn from near the Russian border.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said according to Fox News that the U.S. response ‘left little ground for optimism’ but that ‘there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue, it’s in the interests of both us and the Americans.’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also commented that the U.S. response could lead to the ‘start of serious talks on secondary issues,’ although he said the document contains ‘no positive response’ on Russia’s main security demands.
Lavrov also said that based on the U.S. response the Kremlin will decide what steps it will take, although from Putin’s government so far there has never been any mention of an invasion of Ukraine and has justified his military presence at the border as a mere defensive action.
For his part, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hinted Thursday that Russia would pursue the “diplomatic track” over the next two weeks after talks in Paris between officials from Moscow, Ukraine, France and Germany.
“Nothing has changed, this is the bad news,” Kuleba said according to Reuters, adding that “unfortunately, the biggest demand that Russia has is that Ukraine engages directly in talks with Russian proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk instead of negotiating with Russia. This will not happen, it is a matter of principle.”
But the “good news is that advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track,” Kuleba said.
The UN security council has been repeatedly criticized for placing in its presidency or among its members governments or regimes that brutally violate the human rights of their own citizens such as the case of the Chinese communist regime whose corruption and brutality do not qualify them to lead an international body.