War in Ukraine live updates: President Zelenskyy tells U.N. Security Council to punish Russia and reform itself

Published April 5, 2022 at 8:12 AM EDT
A dog looks out at at a street covered in metal debris.
Alexey Furman
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Destroyed Russian military vehicles are among debris on a street on Monday in Bucha, Ukraine, the site of possible war crimes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded that the U.N. Security Council hold Russia — and, as he put it, other would-be war criminals — accountable, and he urged the council to remove Russia as a member "so it cannot block decisions about ... its own war."

Here's what else we're following today:

White House national security adviser condemns evidence of war crimes: Jake Sullivan called the apparent actions of the Russians "shocking" but "not surprising."

Russian diplomats expelled: European countries, including France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Italy, have kicked out dozens of diplomats in the wake of reports of war crimes.

Stalled humanitarian aid: A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross was among those stopped trying to get into Mariupol.

U.N. Security Council

Zelenskyy questions the council's ability to hold Russia accountable

Posted April 5, 2022 at 12:33 PM EDT

It’s difficult for the Security Council — the U.N.’s most powerful body — to hold Russia accountable for its war in Ukraine because it is a permanent council member. Russia has downplayed its objective in the country and dismissed allegations of war crimes as untrue and has voted against multiple resolutions that would have it withdraw its troops.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slammed the council for allowing Russia to turn the veto “into the right to die,” a situation he said poses a threat to the entire global security system. He warned that if Russia goes unpunished, countries will be reliant on their own arms for security, rather than international law and institutions.

Zelenskyy reminded his audience that the opening chapter of the U.N. charter aims to maintain peace and then said it has been violated “literally starting with Article 1.”

“Where is the security that the Security Council was supposed to guarantee?” Zelenskyy asked, highlighting a common criticism of the U.N.’s ability to make its members fulfill the promises of Article 1 of the U.N Charter to maintain peace. Zelenskyy also highlighted the unlikelihood of the U.N. to take action in light of Russia’s permanent seat on the Security Council and its veto power.

“Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to close the U.N.? Do you think the time for international order is gone?” he asked.

If the answer is no, he said, then action must be taken immediately to restore the U.N. charter and punish Russia.

He pointed to Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen and said that if such atrocities had been punished earlier and not allowed to drag on, perhaps there would not be a war in Ukraine now.

So how can the world respond now? Zelenskyy said that anyone in the Russian military who gave or carried out criminal orders should be brought before a tribunal and held accountable.

He also urged the council to remove Russia “as an aggressor and a source of war” so that it cannot block responses to its own acts of violence.

"If there is no alternative and no option, then the next option would be: dissolve yourself altogether," Zelenskyy added.

U.N. Security Council

Zelenskyy describes the horror in Bucha and says it's just one example of many

Posted April 5, 2022 at 12:27 PM EDT

Editor's note: This story contains descriptions of violence that some may find disturbing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that there is not a single crime that Russian forces "will not commit.” He compared their actions to those of terrorist groups like ISIS, with the only difference being that Russia sits on the Security Council.

Describing the scene in Bucha, near Kyiv, he accused Russian troops of killing entire families and trying to burn their bodies, torturing people, shooting them on the streets, throwing people into wells, killing them in their homes and using tanks to crush cars with civilians inside “just for their pleasure.”

In even more graphic detail, he described them cutting off limbs, slashing throats, raping and killing women in front of their children and pulling out peoples’ tongues “only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them.”

Zelenskyy said that Russia needs Ukraine’s wealth and its people, saying it has deported hundreds of thousands of citizens to Russia, abducted children and is aiming to turn Ukraine “into silent slaves.” He also alleged that the Russian military is openly looting the cities and villages it has occupied, stealing everything from food supplies to “gold earrings that are pulled out and covered with blood."

Zelenskyy said the scenes in Bucha, the city northwest of Kyiv where Russian forces left bodies lying in the streets and mass graves, are “unfortunately only one example of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days.”

Russia has denied these reports and accused Ukraine of staging the killings in Bucha. Zelensky said such denials are part of a classic tactic to say that there are different narratives and that it’s impossible to establish which one is the truth.

“But it is 2022 now,” he said. “We have conclusive evidence, satellite images, we can conduct full and transparent investigations.”

He called for such an investigation, as well as maximum access to journalists, cooperation of international organizations and the involvement of the International Criminal Court, of which neither Russia nor Ukraine is a member.

“Geography may be different or various, but cruelty is the same, crimes are the same, and accountability must be inevitable," he said.

Humanitarian response

Fortnite players help raise $144 million for Ukraine aid

Posted April 5, 2022 at 12:06 PM EDT

Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game Fortnite, has announced it has raised more than $100 million to fund humanitarian aid for those affected by the war in Ukraine.

"Together with the Fortnite community and Xbox, we raised $144 million USD," Epic posted on its website. "Our deepest thanks to everyone who contributed."

The funds will go to support Direct Relief, UNICEF, UN World Food Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and World Central Kitchen.

"As transactions are reported, we’ll log them and send the funds to the humanitarian relief organizations within days," Epic Games said.

The company announced in March that it would donate all proceeds raised through Fortnite from March 20 through April 3 to several organizations providing humanitarian relief. Xbox committed their Fortnite net proceeds as well during that period.

The fundraiser came shortly after the launch of a new season within Fortnite, a time when players may be more likely to buy exclusive content within the game.

All real-money purchases made through Fortnite during that window went toward the fund. Included were purchases such as V-Buck packs, in-game currency, gifted Battle Passes and cosmetic packs, which are ways to obtain exclusive tools or designs for characters.

If players wanted to opt out of their funds going toward relief efforts for Ukraine, the company recommended on their website players wait to purchase anything within Fortnite until after the fundraiser closed Monday.

Zelenskyy remarks

Zelenskyy urges U.N. Security Council to punish Russia and to reform or dissolve for world's sake

Posted April 5, 2022 at 11:40 AM EDT
People in a semicircle of seats watch as Zelenskyy speaks on a large screen.
Spencer Platt
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the United Nations Security Council via video link on Tuesday in New York City.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an impassioned speech to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, urging representatives not to let permanent member Russia continue to go unpunished for what he described as "the most terrible war crimes" since World War II.

His remarks come a day after he visited the city of Bucha, where bodies were found in the streets and in basements after the withdrawal of Russian forces. Zelenskyy described the alleged atrocities there and said the world is likely to see similar horrors in other cities still occupied by Russia — in addition to large-scale consequences like food insecurity and political chaos far beyond Ukraine's borders.

Zelenskyy called on the Security Council to implement internal reforms to hold Russia — and, as he put it, other would-be war criminals — accountable, and he urged it to remove Russia as a member "so it cannot block decisions about ... its own war." If not, he said, it should "dissolve" itself.

Calling for a global conversation

He also described the role that Ukraine could play in this process, saying that it has a "moral right" to propose reforms of the world security system since it has helped people from other conflict-ridden countries, like Afghanistan, in their times of need.

Zelenskyy suggested convening a global conference to discuss how to enforce U.N. goals like guaranteeing recognition of borders. And he also proposed opening a "preventitive" U.N. office in Kyiv that would focus on promoting peace.

“We must do everything in our power to pass onto the next generation an effective U.N. with the ability to respond preventively to security challenges and thus guarantee peace, prevent aggression and force aggressors to peace,” he said at one point.

Zelenskyy urged the council to act immediately to stop the Russian invasion, and called for a war crimes tribunal — like the Nuremberg trials after World War II — to hold Russia accountable.

Global response

Top EU leaders will visit Kyiv this week, ahead of its global fundraiser

Posted April 5, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT
A woman and a man look at each other while standing behind blue European Commission podiums.
Stephanie Lecocq
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Pool/AFP via Getty Images
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell are slated to visit Kyiv this week.

The head of European Union's governing body is traveling to Kyiv this week to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will be joined on the trip by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, according to a tweet from European Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer.

It's the highest-profile visit to Ukraine by a foreign leader since the war began, and the first since the leaders of Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia traveled to the capital in a show of support on March 15.

Mamer said their meeting comes in advance of Stand Up For Ukraine, a global fundraiser with a pledging event is set to take place in Warsaw on Saturday.

The Stand Up For Ukraine campaign aims to raise billions of dollars to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine and for refugees fleeing conflicts around the world.

It includes a social media rally on Friday and a pledging event on Saturday, with funds going toward U.N. groups including Education Cannot Wait, the World Health Organization and U.N. Women, as well as to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

The campaign gets its name from a video address Zelenskyy made to the global community last month, urging them to "stand up for Ukraine" and help those affected by the war.

In response, von der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau partnered with international advocacy organization Global Citizen to organize the pledging event in Poland to recognize the country's major role in supporting Ukrainian refugees.

Dozens of artists, entertainers, athletes and advocates are slated to participate in Friday's "global social media rally."

Here are some of the names that Global Citizen has already released: The Weeknd, Alanis Morissette, Annie Lennox, Billie Eilish, Billy Joel, Celine Dion, Chris Rock, Demi Lovato, Elton John and David Furnish, FINNEAS, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Gloria Steinem, Green Day, Jon Batiste, Jonas Brothers, Juanes, Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Leon Bridges, Luke Combs, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Pharrell Williams, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shaquille O’Neal, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, Tame Impala, U2 and Usher.

Learn more about the campaign here.

U.S. policy

White House adviser Jon Finer says accountability is ‘critically important’ in Ukraine

Posted April 5, 2022 at 10:15 AM EDT

In an interview Tuesday on NPR’s Morning Edition, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told A Martínez that accountability would be “critically important” over the atrocities unfolding in Ukraine. Listen to the interview here, or read below for highlights.

On how the U.S. can bring Putin to justice even though Russia and the U.S. are not members of the International Criminal Court

There are a number of other legal and international mechanisms that have been made available in situations like this in the past. The United States and our partners and allies are going to really work through this and find out and determine what mechanisms are going to be available because accountability is going to be critically important given the atrocities and the horrific crimes that we are seeing unfold in Ukraine right now.

On what it would take for the U.S. to call the events in Ukraine a genocide, a description already used by President Zelenskyy

Evidence at this point and at least in our assessment, has not yet been collected and analyzed to the degree that would allow us to make that sort of claim. That said, we are … very appalled by what we are seeing in terms of atrocities, in terms of war crimes. And we expect there will be much more to come.

On whether the U.S. should be providing heavier artillery and weaponry to Ukraine

The United States, and particularly our Defense Department, believe we are providing the Ukrainians with exactly the forms of security assistance and weapons they need to be most effective on the battlefield. We believe that the most effective weapons ... have been the anti-tank weapons that have been provided by the U.S. and our allies, the anti-aircraft weapons that the United States has provided … But there’s still a long way to go.

On providing MiG aircraft to Ukraine

The United States does not have MiG aircraft, and the United States has not said no, and could not say no, to other countries transferring MiG aircraft to Ukraine.

Education

Millions of Ukrainian children are still in school despite the war

Posted April 5, 2022 at 10:04 AM EDT
A boy looks at his computer while sitting at a desk in a bedroom.
Andreea Campeanu
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Dima, who fled the war in Ukraine with his mother, attends an online class, at the "Saint John the Baptist" Monastery in Ruscova, where 12 Ukrainians are currently being hosted, on March 30, 2022 in Ruscova, Romania.

It's Tuesday morning and Hanna Kudrinova's 5th grade English class is signed on to Google Meet. Kudrinova starts like a lot of teachers everywhere, with a check-in. She asks the students to turn on their cameras and show a thumbs up if they're happy, thumbs down if they are sad, and sideways if they are feeling so-so.

Today, Maksym Radzievsky, a boy with a round face and a striped shirt who seemingly always has his hand raised, says he is so-so because he's tired. He is in Munich, Germany, in an earlier time zone than Ukraine, so he had to start class at 7:30.

Other students are yawning — one is wrapped in a blanket. Air-raid sirens were going off the night before in the small town near Odessa where they all used to live and study with Kudrinova in person.

Now her students are scattered to the winds — some still at home, some elsewhere in Ukraine, others in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, even as far as Canada.

Since Feb. 24, more than half the country's children have been pushed from their homes. At least two million are refugees outside the country, a number that grows daily. It's one of the biggest, and fastest, disruptions of children's lives since World War II.

Safety, housing, food, and medical care are the top priorities, but a surprising number of families are also keeping up with school. When the war started, Ukraine's Ministry of Education declared a two-week school holiday. But since then, teaching has resumed remotely.

The Ministry says nearly three million, a majority of the country's school-aged children, have shown up for online learning, at least a bit. The country is even broadcasting video lessons on television.

It may seem surprising, but the world is newly familiar with remote learning thanks to the pandemic. And Ukraine's focus on maintaining education is in line with an emerging philosophy of disaster response — one summed up in the name of a special fund at the United Nations: Education Cannot Wait. The fund has just announced $5 million in donations to help children affected by the war with learning and mental health services.

"Often when you have a humanitarian crisis, you under-prioritize education and focus on water and shelter — which is important," says Yasmine Sherif, the director of the fund. "However, what we have seen from many countries in crisis is that they are protracted — they can last 10, 20, 30 years."

When there is no school and no other organized activity, Sherif says, children's mental health suffers within a few days. Over months or years, children can be pulled into a conflict as soldiers, or risk trafficking and other abuses. And without school, "You will have no dreams and hopes for those millions and millions of children and adolescents, but also no capacity to build a country should peace arrive."

Read the full story here.

Mariupol

Humanitarian aid has been turned away before reaching Mariupol — again

Posted April 5, 2022 at 9:48 AM EDT
People look out the window of a bus at night.
EMRE CAYLAK
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AFP via Getty Images
A convoy of buses carrying evacuees from Mariupol and Melitopol arrive at the registration center in Zaporizhzhia on April.

Since Friday, a caravan of buses, including one with a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross, has been attempting to get humanitarian aid into besieged Mariupol.

They were stopped Monday by police about 12 miles from the city and held.

After negotiations last night, they were released and sent to back to Zaporizhzhia, according to the Ukrainian deputy prime minister.

"This is of great relief to us and to their families. The team is focused now on continuing the humanitarian evacuation operation," the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

"This incident yesterday shows how volatile and complex the operation to facilitate safe passage around Mariupol has been for our team, who have been trying to reach the city since Friday."

Officials say it's still not safe to enter Mariupol, where more than 100,000 people remain trapped.

Today, an evacuation corridor has been set up so Mariupol citizens will be able to leave using their own transport.

Aftergruesome scenes of bodies were discovered in Bucha, near Kyiv, and in Irpin, people in Ukraine and around the world are bracing for what aid teams may find once they're admitted into Mariupol.

On the ground

Efforts are underway to formally document the gruesome discoveries in Kyiv's suburbs

Posted April 5, 2022 at 9:34 AM EDT
Shards of glass and debris litter the street in front of shops with broken windows and open doors.
Alexey Furman
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Getty Images
Heavily damaged shops are shown on Monday in Bucha, Ukraine.

Leaders from Ukraine and other countries want to hold Russia accountable for alleged war crimes, following the emergence of reports and images of bodies in the streets and other atrocities in towns like Bucha.

Moscow denies the images' authenticity, but Ukrainian officials say they've found the bodies of 410 people in the Kyiv suburbs.

President Biden has again called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal and said the U.S. will seek additional sanctions on Russia, continue to gather information for a formal war crimes trial and keep supporting Ukraine's military. The U.S. is supporting a team of international prosecutors to collect evidence on the ground in Ukraine.

NPR's Elissa Nadworny spoke to Morning Edition from Kyiv, where she says people's grief and anger are palpable.

"Each day we're getting more and more information about what Russian soldiers left behind," she said, adding that the focus is now on documentation, like gathering evidence and performing autopsies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy toured Bucha on Monday and called what he saw a genocide, though Nadworny notes that it will take time to definitively use terms like genocide and war crimes to describe what happened there. Zelenskyy said in his nightly address that the bodies had been cleared from the streets — and that hundreds of people shouldn't need to be tortured to death for the West to take action.

Nadworny says that everyone she talks to has seen the images coming out of Bucha and that the "grief here is pretty pervasive." She spoke with a mother from the Sumy region who fled to Kyiv with her 7-year-old daughter. Her daughter is afraid she'll start seeing bodies in the streets of the capital and, as Nadworny put it, is "just expecting death everywhere."

The images are also stirring up anger and frustration, especially when it comes to peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Ukrainians are troubled by the idea of making deals with and concessions to the country that did this, Nadworny explains. But Zelenskyy says talks are really the only way out.

Now, she adds, all eyes are on the West to see how it can help Ukraine.

Listen to the conversation here.

Global fallout

The climate cost of the war in Ukraine

Posted April 5, 2022 at 8:37 AM EDT
A 2014 photo of the offshore loading platform of Dominion Energy's Cove Point LNG Terminal, which exports liquefied natural gas.
Cliff Owen
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AP
A 2014 photo of the offshore loading platform of Dominion Energy's Cove Point LNG Terminal, which exports liquefied natural gas.

The war in Ukraine has made getting more fossil fuels to Europe a top priority of the Biden administration, in order to wean European Union members off Russian energy. But this comes as both Europe and the U.S. are behind on their goals to quickly reduce carbon emissions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The latest reportfrom the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for an immediate switch to renewable energy and says the world will need to capture carbon from the atmosphere to stay within 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. That tension has prompted concern among climate activists, who warn that more fossil fuel exports will mean more climate warming emissions.

But some energy experts say this moment also presents an opportunity to change course, by making the point that clean energy is crucial for national security.

"I think it is more likely than not that we'll look back on this crisis as actually accelerating a clean energy transition," said Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Though, Bordoff notes, it could go either way.

Experts told NPR the climate cost of the war is still up in the air and depends on how governments balance an immediate need for fossil fuels against long-term shifts in energy production.

Click here to read the full story.

Politics

Biden administration describes war crimes, but not genocide, in Ukraine

Posted April 5, 2022 at 8:13 AM EDT
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stands at a podium during a White House briefing, with press secretary Jen Psaki seated on the side.
Chip Somodevilla
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National security adviser Jake Sullivan talks to reporters during the daily White House news conference on Monday.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan briefed reporters on the conflict in Ukraine on Monday, saying that images of civilian devastation in places like Bucha are “further evidence of war crimes” that the U.S. had already concluded were being committed by Russia.

“The images that we see are tragic. They’re shocking. But unfortunately, they’re not surprising,” Sullivan said. “We released information even before Russia’s invasion showing that Russia would engage in acts of brutality against civilians including targeted killings of dissidents and others they deemed a threat to their occupation. And as the horrific images that have emerged from Bucha have shown, that’s exactly what they have done.”

Regarding President Biden’s call for a war crimes trial, Sullivan noted that has been done in the past at the International Criminal Court, of which the U.S., Ukraine and Russia are not members.

He also predicted that Russia would likely veto any effort through the U.N. Security Council but did not offer details on an alternative venue. Sullivan later said that any decision about such a process would be made among various nations and not by the U.S.

Sullivan said the U.S. and allies would announce further economic sanctions on Russia this week in response. Questioned by reporters, Sullivan said the U.S. sees atrocities and war crimes, but not “genocide” at this point, despite claims of a genocide by President Zelenskyy.

Warnings about the next phase of the war

On the state of the conflict, Sullivan said that Russia did not count on the strength of the Ukrainian military and that “Russia is revising its war aims” to focus on eastern Ukraine and the southern part of the country. Though, Western intelligence also incorrectly believed that Russia would swiftly take Kyiv.

Sullivan said that the U.S. believes Russian forces are redeploying already and that Russia will target more territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions beyond what separatists have held since 2014. The U.S. also expects Russia to work to hold Kherson and control water flow to Crimea.

Sullivan said Russia is likely to keep pressure on Kharkiv, along with continued air and missile strikes across the country to cause “military and economic damage and frankly to cause terror.”

“The next stage of this conflict may very well be protracted,” Sullivan said, warning that Russia could regenerate forces to claim more territory.

“Russia has tried to subjugate the whole of Ukraine, and it has failed. Now it will attempt to bring parts of the country under its rule. It may succeed in taking some territory through sheer force and brutality, but no matter what happens over the coming weeks, it is clear that Russia will never be welcomed by the Ukrainian people,” Sullivan said.

He added that further announcements of military assistance to Ukraine will happen in the coming days.

World reaction

European countries are expelling Russian diplomats over alleged war crimes

Posted April 5, 2022 at 8:13 AM EDT
People stand outside of an embassy building, with blue and yellow signs and flags covering the plaza.
Sean Gallup
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People and pro-Ukrainian protest signs stand outside the Russian Embassy on March 28, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.

France is the latest European country to expel dozens of Russian diplomats whom it considers spies.

Europeans are shocked over images that appear to show the indiscriminate killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces, which French President Emmanuel Macron called a clear war crime.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the diplomats’ activities contrary to French interests. Thirty-five diplomats will be kicked out.

Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Italy are also expelling dozens of Russian diplomats.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock declared 40 diplomats “undesirable” and described their work as a threat to “those who are seeking our protection.”

Zelenskyy remarks

Zelenskyy will address the U.N. today, amid growing accusations of Russian war crimes

Posted April 5, 2022 at 8:13 AM EDT
Volodymyr Zelenskyy looks emotional as he stands in a group of soldiers.
Ronaldo Schemidt
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AFP via Getty Images
Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the press in the town of Bucha on Monday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday and discuss allegations of war crimes committed by Russia following the discovery of executions and mass graves.

World leaders expressed increasing outrage after seeing reports of dead Ukrainian civilians — many of whom appear to have been executed — strewn about in Bucha, a city northwest of Kyiv. Photos of bodies lining the streets and satellite images of mass graves first surfaced Saturday after Russian forces withdrew from positions outside Ukraine's capital.

Zelenskyy is set to make his remarks around 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, a day after visiting Bucha and witnessing the atrocities firsthand.

Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the U.N., told reporters Monday that Tuesday's meeting will require council members to face "the true reality" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"What's important about this meeting is it will be the first opportunity the Security Council has had to discuss the images that we've seen in Bucha, which you've heard widely over the weekend described both as war crimes and as genocide," Woodward said.

She also said the U.K. "strongly supports" U.S. efforts to suspend Russia's voting rights on the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, as championed by Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Russia is one of five permanent members of the council, as are the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

"Russia should not have a position of authority in that body, nor should we allow Russia to use their role on the Council as a tool of propaganda to suggest they have a legitimate concern about human rights," Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday. "In fact, we see every day, including yesterday, heartbreaking reports about how little they care about human rights."

Read the full story here.