‘One man chose this war’: U.N. Security Council discusses Russian horrors in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine took center stage at the U.N. Security Council as leading players on opposite sides came face-to-face for the first time since Russia's invasion. They waged verbal battle as the war claimed more casualties. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    This has been a dramatic day for the United Nations Security Council, with the war in Ukraine taking center stage.

    Leading players on opposite sides of the conflict came face-to-face for the first time since Russia's invasion last February. They waged verbal battle as the shooting war claimed more casualties.

    Nick Schifrin has our report.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In a war that Russia says only targets the military, today, the target was a Ukrainian hotel, and residents of Zaporizhzhia have lost help.

  • Lillia Krasovska, Zaporizhzhia Resident (through translator):

    For me, it doesn't matter anymore. It doesn't matter if it kills me. I have nobody to bury me.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    At the same time in New York, the Security Council held an unusually senior-level meeting about a war that Secretary of State Antony Blinken called existential.

    Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: One man chose this war. One man can end it, because, if Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The diplomats discussed Russian horrors, including a mass burial site of more than 400 Ukrainians, among the exhumed, a soldier wearing a bracelet of Ukraine's colors.

  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba:

  • Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister:

    I do wear want too. I just wanted to show it to you. Many of us do. And Russia should know one thing. It will never be able to kill all of us.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov walked in 20 minutes after Blinken finished and said Moscow considered the war necessary.

  • Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister (through translator):

    The decision to conduct the special military operation was inevitable. Ukraine prepared to play the role of anti-Russia, a staging ground to create a threat to Russian security. And I assure you that we will never accept this.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And Russia is now escalating the war, politically, printing ballots for what NATO today called sham referenda, asking residents of four occupied regions of Ukraine whether they want to join Russia, and militarily, doubling the number of troops already in Ukraine.

    Online video shows Siberian recruits heading to the front, part of a mobilization of 300,000 reservists that many appear to be trying to flee. Multiple border crossings are backed up, including this one to Russia's neighbor Georgia.

  • Denis, Russian Citizen (through translator):

    It looks like a lot of people want to leave. So it has all become a bit of a mess, lots of cars.

  • Person:

    We're on way home to our families, by the skin of our teeth.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But, today, both sides celebrated a prisoner swap, British American and more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers, as well as pregnant Ukrainian women, freed from Russian captivity, in exchange for a well-known politician close to Putin and Russian soldiers.

    But both sides said even the war's largest prisoner exchange will not stop the fighting.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

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