Russia on Human Rights Council a 'Farce,' Says U.S. Envoy to United Nations

The United States ambassador to the United Nations said the U.S. will ask the U.N.'s General Assembly to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council in light of Ukraine's accusations of a civilian massacre in the city of Bucha.

While on a visit to Romania, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that Russia's participation in the council "is a farce," Reuters reported.

"And it is wrong, which is why we believe it is time the U.N. General Assembly vote to remove them," she added.

Anatoly Fedoruk, mayor of Bucha, a city just outside the capital city of Kyiv, told CNN that Russian forces "vented their frustration" over not being able to take the capital on Bucha, saying they "indiscriminately killed" dozens of civilians, later telling AFP that more than 300 residents were killed in the attack. Russia has denied the accusations, saying they are "another provocation" and a staged "production" from the Ukrainian government.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha, where there is evidence of mass graves, Newsweek previously reported. He said the alleged killings "are war crimes and will be recognized by the world as genocide." U.S. President Joe Biden has also said the situation in Bucha is a war crime, calling for a war crime trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the U.N.'s General Assembly has adopted two resolutions that denounce Russia, with 140 members voting in favor of them, Reuters reported.

"My message to those 140 countries who have courageously stood together is: The images out of Bucha and devastation across Ukraine require us to now match our words with action," Thomas-Greenfield said.

The U.N.'s Human Rights Council is made up of 47 countries. Its responsibility is to address human rights violations around the world and to make recommendations based on its findings. It also has the power to launch investigations into potential human rights violations.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia's ambassador to the U.N., told reporters the effort to remove Russia from the council will likely not succeed, according to Reuters.

"Washington exploits the Ukraine crisis for its own benefit in an attempt either to exclude or suspend Russia from international organizations, including the Human Rights Council here in Geneva," Gatilov said.

White House officials called the reports of what happened in Bucha a "punch to the gut." In addition to calling for a war crime trial against Putin and Russia, Biden also told reporters on Monday that he will seek further sanctions against Russia and will continue to provide Ukraine with financial and military assistance in response to the reported atrocities in Bucha.

"This guy [Putin] is brutal," Biden said. "And what's happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone's seen it."

Follow Newsweek's live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Update 04/04/22 1:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and background.

U.S. Asks to Remove Russia from HRC
The U.S. will ask the U.N. to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council. Above, General Antonio Guterres appears on a screen as he delivers a remote speech at the opening of a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council on February 28 in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images