Fact Check: The European Council President Did NOT Say Zelenskyy Was The Perpetrator Of Crimes In Ukraine

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: The European Council President Did NOT Say Zelenskyy Was The Perpetrator Of Crimes In Ukraine Meant Opposite

Did the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, refer to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he said "Ukraine is a crime scene. The perpetrator is sitting right in this room" during a UN Security Council meeting in New York? No, that's not true: Michel's full speech and reports from the event show that he actually meant the opposite, referring to the Russian representatives present at the meeting.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) published on September 21, 2023 by TikTok user @sorinamirabela, with the following caption:

The president of the european council told Zelenskyy to his face, at the UN meeting, what he thinks about him.

(All texts are translated from English to Romanian by the Lead Stories staff.)

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

TikTok screenshot

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Sep 26 10:36:12 2023 UTC)

The clip only showed a 10-second excerpt of the European Council President Charles Michel's saying:

Ukraine is a crime scene. The perpetrator is sitting right in this room. You know who you are.

He started his speech this way at this year's UN Security Council meeting, held in New York on September 20, 2023, which focused on the ongoing war in Ukraine and had Ukraine's President Volodomyr Zelenskyy participating in person. Details from the meeting can be found in the United Nations' meeting coverage, as well as in various news reports.

The meeting had taken off with a heated exchange between the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Vasily Nebenzya and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama. First, Nebenzya objected to those allowed to speak, as well as the order of speakers, asking on what basis Ukraine's president was given the floor first. Rama, in his capacity as President of this year's Security Council, said that notice of the planned speaking order was given to all Council members, and, quoting official documents, explained that invited non-members have the right to speak first under certain circumstances and that the day's speaking order was "in full conformity with the Council's guidelines and practice."

He also called the Russian Federation's lecture on the violation of rules "an impressive shoot" and suggested: "You stop the war, and President Zelenskyy will not take the floor."

After Zelenskyy's speech, followed by several country presidents and prime ministers who generally condemned Russia's invasion and aggression and asked for peace, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Kyiv and the West of selectively following principles of the 1945 UN Charter only when it suited them.

Following several other speakers, President of the European Council Michel started with the three short phrases mentioned above, then, according to the full press release and video with his speech, continued:

The Kremlin dreams of restoring the old Russian empire. After Ukraine, who will be next? Who will be next to satisfy Putin's fantasy of the past? And if Russia succeeds in Ukraine, what other countries would be tempted to copy its actions?

At this crime scene, we also have the victim, the attacked. Ukraine and all Ukrainians, fighting a battle they did not start, defending their country against a war they did not want and protecting their children against suffering nobody deserves. Trying to save them from another horror of this war - their forced abduction to Russia. So-called 'adoptions'. In reality, these are deportations of children.

(...) we, the European Union, stand firmly with Ukraine to defend itself. As long as the innocent are attacked, we will help them to defend themselves. And we will stay by their side, for as long as it takes.

At this crime scene, we also have the witnesses, all of us around the world. And all of us, sitting right here, the witnesses in this Security Council. What have we done about this crime? What have we done about this aggression? What have we done as one of the permanent members attacks its neighbor? What have we done, as it wields its veto power against each of us, and against the core principles of the UN Charter?

Michel, who has often had declarations of support for Ukraine and Zelenskyy since Moscow's invasion, then appealed to the representative of China to persuade the Russian Federation to end the war.

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  Lead Stories Staff

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