Britain has blocked a UN webcast of an informal Security Council meeting on Ukraine scheduled for April 5 at which Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, is due to speak.
“She should not be afforded a UN platform to spread disinformation,” a spokesperson for Britain’s UN mission said in a statement quoted by Reuters. “If she wants to give an account of her actions, she can do so in The Hague.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague last month issued arrest warrants for Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin on war crimes charges related to the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children and the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine since it invaded in February 2022.
Lvova-Belova was invited to participate virtually in the meeting after all 15 council members agreed to allow the meeting to be webcast by the United Nations.
“Tomorrow, Russia will hold an informal UN meeting on ‘evacuating’ Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Russia. Russia has invited Maria Lvova-Belova to brief. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for her last month. The U.K. ambassador will not be participating,” Britain’s mission to the UN said on Twitter on April 4.
Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyansky responded on Twitter, saying Russia “will from now on block UN webcasts of all similar meetings citing the ‘UK censorship clause.'”
Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told reporters last month that the informal meeting of Security Council members to be held on April 5 had been planned long before the ICC announcement and it was not intended to be a rebuttal of the charges against Putin and Lvova-Belova.
The Kremlin’s alleged deportation of tens of thousands of children from Ukraine to Russia or areas occupied by Russian forces has been a major topic at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
Moscow has said the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia was a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the war zone.
But the council was skeptical on April 4 when it demanded that Russia provide access to and information about Ukrainian children and other civilians forcibly transferred to territory under its control.
The top UN rights body passed a resolution demanding that Moscow “cease the unlawful forced transfer and deportation of civilians and other protected persons within Ukraine or to the Russian Federation.”
The text, which passed with 28 of the 47 council members voting in favor, 17 abstaining, and only China and Eritrea opposed, highlighted in particular the transfer of “children, including those from institutional care, unaccompanied children and separated children.”
The vote extends the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which Ukraine says is essential for keeping Russia accountable for its crimes.