1 of 10 | Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walks through streets in Bucha, Ukraine, near Kyiv, on Monday. Western governments began to ratchet up punishment this week against Moscow after images of dead civilians emerged from the Kyiv suburb. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Presidential Office/UPI | License Photo
April 5 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday and spoke with urgency in urging the body to act decisively to help Ukrainians and end the occupation and violence against civilians by Russian forces.
Zelensky told the council that leaders in Moscow are playing the role of colonialists who want to turn Ukrainians into "silent slaves."
In an impassioned speech, he also said that Russia has turned its veto power on the Security Council into a "right to die," and the U.N. body must prevent Russia and other authoritarian countries from war against civilians.
"Ukraine needs peace," he said. "Europe needs peace. The world needs peace."
As many analysts have, Zelensky noted that all available evidence, including satellite imagery, clearly refute Russian claims that the attacks against civilians are being done by Ukraine. Russia for weeks has been telling Russian citizens that it's on a "peacekeeping" mission in Ukraine to rid the former Soviet republic of neo-Nazi ideology and acts. Moscow has blocked virtually all outside news sources to hide its activities, officials have said.
Zelensky and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres both called for immediate investigations Tuesday into Russia's actions.
"This is 2022," Zelensky said. "We can have a full and transparent investigation and that's what we're calling for.
A few days ago, a slew of images began emerging from Ukraine showing dead civilians from Russian-occupied regions and evidence of other potential war crimes.
"Unfortunately it's only one example of what the occupiers have been doing on our territory for the past 41 days," Zelensky said.
A view of a destroyed bridge in the town of Irpin in Ukrainian is pictured on Monday. Photo by Ukrainian Presidental Office/UPI
Ukrainian officials say more than 300 bodies have been found so far since Russian forces retreated from Bucha last week. Zelensky said he believes the total will climb and more atrocities will be uncovered as officials clear more homes in the area -- and challenged the council to take immediate and decisive action.
"Are you ready to close the U.N.?" he asked the Security Council. "Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately."
"The world can see what Russia did in Bucha," he said, detailing some of the atrocities. "But the world has yet to see what they have done in other occupied cities and regions of our country."
The Ukrainian president added that the Security Council must expel Russia, or it serves no purpose for any country and should dissolve itself.
World leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, have said the attacks against civilians amount to war crimes -- and Biden added that Russian President Vladimir Putin should face trial for war crimes.
It's virtually certain that the Security Council will do nothing about Russia's military campaign, as Russia has veto power for any proposed action by the council.
"The war in Ukraine is one of the greatest challenges ever to the international order and the global peace architecture founded on the United Nations charter," Guterres said at the council meeting earlier on Tuesday. "Because of its nature, intensity and consequences.
"The war has led to senseless loss of life, massive devastation in urban centers and destruction of civilian infrastructure.
"I will never forget the images of civilians killed in Bucha and I immediately call for an independent investigation to guarantee effective accountability."
Russia's military said on Tuesday that it struck a training center in southern Ukraine with missiles from ships offshore. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the facility housed Ukrainian special operations forces.
He also said the Russian military hit fuel storage facilities in Kremenets, Cherkasy, Zaporizhzhia and Novomoskovsk.
It was reported Tuesday that Russian forces continued their pullback from around Kyiv, calling it a goodwill gesture after its troops faced stiff resistance there from Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian service members stand beside a damaged building in a residential area after shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 18. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo