Watch CBS News

Zelenskyy pleads with U.N. to "act immediately" and "hold Russia accountable for terrorism"

Russian missile strike hits shopping center
Russian missile strike hits shopping center in Ukraine 02:06

United Nations — In a surprise address to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — who previously labelled Russia's strike on a shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk a "terrorist attack" — told world leaders that "It is necessary to act immediately, and do everything for Russia to stop killing children, people, everyone." 

"We must hold Russia accountable for terrorism," he added. 

Zelenskyy spoke to diplomats at an emergency council meeting that was called by Ukraine in response to the shopping center missile strike. Officials said 18 were confirmed dead and at least 36 people are still missing. 

Ukraine's president called for "a special international tribunal to investigate Russian occupants' actions on Ukrainian soil," and asked for a moment of silence for civilians killed in the attack. 

"Different countries of the world can have different attitudes towards war, to any war," Zelenskyy said. "But in every country in the world, the memory of the dead is equally honored."   

"I am grateful to all the honest and civilized states that share our position and help protect international law," Zelenskyy added. 

Workers help rescuers to remove rubble of the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk, on June 28, 2022, one day after it was hit by a Russian missile strike, according to Ukrainian authorities. GENYA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

Zelenskyy also called for the removal of the Russia delegation, and suggested the Security Council should, "continue 24 hours a day to discuss every terrorist act of the Russian state." 

"Russia has no right to participate in negotiations and voting on the war against Ukraine," he said. "...I urge you to remove the delegation of terrorist state from power in the U.N. General Assembly." 

"This is a must. This is only fair. This is fair. Russia has no right to stay," Zelenskyy added.

Deputy Representative to the United Nations for the U.S. Richard Mills told the council, "We were honored by his presence here, but I think we're all horrified by the circumstances under which we meet…It would already be an outrage if yesterday's attack was a horrific exception. But it is not even that." 

"The attack fits into a cruel pattern, one where the Russian military kills civilians and destroys civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. The Kremlin has demonstrated time and time again that it is trying to subjugate Ukraine – its sovereignty, its people, its spirit," Mills said. 

Before the Russian delegation spoke, Mills cautioned diplomats, saying, "I expect the representative from the Russian Federation, in a moment, to try to obfuscate, to avoid responsibility, and blame others for this tragedy. But no one here will be fooled."

Mills added that evidence Russia has committed war crimes is "mounting, and it cannot be ignored." 

Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky — who stood for the moment of silence — referred to "Western propagandist collaborators" and told diplomats that "by supplying weapons you only prolong the agony…"  

The U.K.'s ambassador to the U.N., Barbara Woodward, took aim at Russia's response, saying, "the Russian representative can try to claim that nothing is true and make outrageous claims of Ukrainian provocations. Cover ups are as old as crime itself, but the undeniable fact is that Russian forces are in Ukraine, and there are no Ukrainian forces in Russia. There is one aggressor here. The evidence will catch up with them and there will be accountability for these crimes."  

The Biden administration's envoy, referring to the recent G-7 meeting focusing on support for Ukraine and continuing penalties against Russia, said, "the world has come together to say enough is enough." 

Prior to Tuesday's meting, several council members issued a statement condemning Russia's recent missile strikes and demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities against Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine continues to inflict a heavy civilian toll. U.N. Under Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said Tuesday that, as of Sunday, 10,631 civilians had been killed in Ukraine. DiCarlo also addressed the continuing plight of Ukrainian refugees.

"Ukraine is suffering the largest human displacement crisis in the world today," she said. "Since the start of the Russian invasion, more than one-quarter of the country's population — 12 million people — have been forced from their homes. Within Ukraine, over 7.1 million people remain displaced by the war. UNHCR estimates there are over 5.2 million refugees present across Europe. Over 3.5 million refugees from Ukraine have registered for temporary protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe."  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.