Talking Points

Kick Russia off the U.N. Security Council!

Americans awoke this morning to the tragic news that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin had launched a full-scale, worst-case-scenario invasion of Ukraine, with forces breaching the border from three directions. There can be only one explanation, which is that Putin intends to overthrow Ukraine's democratic government and replace it with some kind of puppet regime.

Having ruled out the direct use of military force, the U.S. and its allies now must decide how to respond to this flagrant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty. One tool among many that should be considered is to attempt to strip Russia of its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Russia sits in one of the five permanent seats on the Security Council, and in theory could veto such a move, as well as block any attempt by the General Assembly to remove Russia from the UN altogether. But there has always been some question about the legal process by which the USSR's seat was transferred to Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's collapse. After all, the constituent republics of the USSR declared in 1991 that the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and with it should have gone the legal right of any of those entities, including Russia, to sit on the Council.

There was never a formal process to admit Russia into the U.N. after the USSR's demise, and the Security Council seat was granted via a decision from the UN's legal counsel with no action requested from the General Assembly. That edict could be revoked, and the U.S. could demand a vote in the General Assembly on Russia's Security Council membership. Would such a maneuver save Kyiv? No, but Moscow must be besieged on all fronts if there is any hope of rescuing Ukrainians from a Russian occupation. The worst crisis in post-war Europe demands nothing less than concerted, dramatic action aimed at Moscow's total isolation, and the time to start is now.