Ukrainian UN Ambassador Accuses Russians of Engaging in 'Nazi Cosplay'

Ukraine Russia Nazi Cosplay UN Security Council
Ukrainian UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of partaking in "Nazi cosplay" by invading Ukraine during a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday. Kyslytsya is pictured during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York City on February 28, 2022. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty

Ukraine has accused Russia of acting like Nazis by launching an unprovoked attack on a neighboring country.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations (UN), said that Russia was participating in Nazi "cosplay," or "costume play," while addressing his Russian counterpart Vasily Nebenzya during a UN Security Council meeting on Thursday. Russia has faced multiple accusations of war crimes involving the targeting of civilians since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last month.

"Over these weeks, the international community has wrestled with the question, why?" Kyslytsya said during the meeting. "Why has the Russian Federation decided to cosplay the Nazi Third Reich by attacking the peaceful neighboring state and plunging the region into war?"

"What are the reasons and what is the plan?" he added. "Yesterday, we got the answer: killing Ukrainian children, 108 innocent souls so far."

During a Security Council meeting that took place as the Russian invasion was beginning on February 24, Kyslytsya told Nebenzya to "go straight to hell," while maintaining that there was "no purgatory for war criminals."

On Thursday, Kyslytsya quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin insisting on Wednesday that the war was "developing successfully" and "in strict accordance with pre-approved plans," despite Russian National Guard leader Viktor Zolotov admitting to setbacks days earlier.

Kyslytsya also recalled that Putin's remarks were made on the same day that the Mariupol Drama Theater was destroyed by a Russian missile while over 1,000 civilians, including many children, were sheltering inside.

The UN has reported that at least 726 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, including 52 children. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said during the Security Council meeting that the "actual number is likely much higher," while noting that "hundreds" of residential buildings, hospitals and schools had been targeted.

Ukraine said that the Mariupol theater was targeted despite the word "children" being written outside in Russian lettering large enough to be clearly seen on satellite images. Russia has denied carrying out the attack, claiming that a far-right nationalist Ukrainian National Guard battalion was responsible instead.

Although the building was reduced to rubble, the BBC reported on Thursday that local authorities said the bomb shelter under the structure had remained intact. Multiple reports and social media posts by current and former Ukrainian officials indicated that hundreds may have survived the attack.

Former Donetsk Oblast Governor Sergiy Taruta said in a Facebook post that at least 130 people out of 1,300 occupants had been rescued from the theater by Thursday morning.

Kyslytsya's comments comparing the Russian invasion to Nazi Germany's incursions into Eastern European countries at the beginning of World War II were made shortly before the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) said that the Russian offensive had seemingly paused after more than three weeks of relentless air and ground assaults.

"We have observed [continued Russian] naval activity in the north Black Sea off the coast of Odesa, but no shelling over the course of the last 24 hours that we observed," a senior DoD official said in a statement. "And [we haven't seen] imminent signs of an amphibious assault on Odesa."

"[The] Ukrainians are the reason why [the Russians] haven't been able to move forward," the official added. "And it's because they're very actively resisting any movement by the Russians ... We have anecdotal indications that Russian morale is flagging."

Newsweek reached out to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations for comment.