U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the United Nations Security Council on Friday that it should not be fooled by calls for a temporary or unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine, saying a "just and durable" peace cannot allow Russia to rest and rearm.
The council met to mark the one year anniversary of Russia's invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which was launched on Feb. 24 last year as the 15-member body met in New York over Western concerns that Moscow was planning such a move.
Blinken's warning to the council came just hours after China called for a comprehensive ceasefire as part of a 12-point plan on the war that was largely a reiteration of its approach since Russia launched what it calls a "special military operation."
"Any peace that legitimizes Russia's seizure of land by force will weaken the (U.N.) Charter and send a message to would-be aggressors everywhere that they can invade countries and get away with it," Blinken said.
The 193-member U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly isolated Russia on Thursday, calling for a "comprehensive, just and lasting peace" in line with the founding U.N. Charter and again demanding Moscow withdraw its troops and stop fighting.
"No member of this council should call for peace while supporting Russia's war on Ukraine and on the U.N. Charter," said Blinken, who has accused China of considering supplying arms to Russia and warned Beijing against such a move.
Western powers have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in weapons since Russia invaded. China told the General Assembly on Thursday that "sending weapons will not bring peace" in Ukraine.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Security Council that any new peace proposals should be aligned with the demands made by the General Assembly.
"We have always taken an objective and impartial stance based on the merits of the issue and are ready to continue to play a responsible and constructive role in easing the situation, resolving the crisis," China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dai Bing told the Security Council on Friday.
Russia says it is trying to "denazify" Ukraine and protect Russian speakers in the east of the country, and also accuses the West of waging a "proxy war" against it by arming Ukraine and imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Western powers say it is an unprovoked land grab and that if Russia stops fighting and withdraws then the war will end, but if Ukraine stops fighting then it will cease to exist as an independent country.
"It sounds pretty but it's absolutely false," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council. "Where, when and from whom did you hear that the goal of our military operation is to destroy Ukraine ... We have never stated such a goal."
The Security Council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine in the past year but has been unable to take any meaningful action because Russia is able to wield a veto.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Simon Lewis; Editing by Paul Grant, William Maclean and Daniel Wallis)