The G7 countries have backed a move to suspend Russia from the UN’s Human Rights Council over what they called atrocities and potential war crimes in Ukraine, before a vote on the proposal later on Thursday.
Meeting in Brussels, foreign ministers from the club of wealthy democracies said they were “convinced that now is the time” to shut Russian diplomats out of the council to isolate the Kremlin internationally.
A draft UN resolution would suspend Russia’s membership rights over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by Moscow’s forces since they invaded Ukraine.
EU diplomats walked out of a previous appearance by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the council in Geneva. The bloc said it believes western countries have the numbers to win.
“It’s going to be a difficult vote, because it requires two-thirds of the votes, but I think that it will be agreed,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said at a Nato meeting on Thursday.
Outrage over the apparent massacre in Bucha, near Kyiv, has spurred Ukraine’s allies to tighten sanctions on Moscow over the war, which is entering its seventh week. Mr Borrell had hoped to achieve a coal embargo, the first step towards undermining Russia’s energy sector, approved this week.
The G7 nations – the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada – said the events in Bucha were as atrocities that breached international law. They said they supported investigations into “these and other potential war crimes”.
After meeting Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba, who is seeking tougher sanctions on Russia and more weapons for Ukraine, the G7 ministers said it was necessary to increase economic pressure on Moscow and “thwart Russian abilities to continue the aggression against Ukraine”.
Last month, Russia quit the Council of Europe, a human rights body not affiliated to the EU, after calls mounted for its suspension.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also called for Russia to be expelled from the UN Security Council, of which it is a permanent member, so that it cannot block decisions about its own war