Blinken tells UN Russia's crimes can't become the 'new normal' on Ukraine war anniversary

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By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) -- On the anniversary of the start of Russia's war against Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called on the international community not to let Russian President Vladimir Putin's crimes "become our new normal" -- and seemed to tacitly downplay a proposal by Beijing to bring an end to the war.

In his remarks at the United Nations Security Council -- just over a year after he told the same forum that Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine -- Blinken stressed the need for members of the council, which includes China and Russia, to stand for "the basic principles" of international order, describing the ways that they could do so.

Blinken catalogued a litany of horrific actions committed by Russia over the past year, and spoke of the "inspiring unity" shown by Ukrainians "in helping one another endure Moscow's relentless assault." He also spoke about the way "the international community has come together."

"Nations around the world continue to stand with Ukraine, because we all recognize that if we abandon Ukraine, we abandon the UN Charter itself, and the principles and rules that make all our countries safer and more secure: No seizing land by force. No erasing another country's borders. No targeting civilians in war," Blinken said. "If we do not defend these basic principles, we invite a world in which might makes right, the strong dominate the weak."

"That's the world this body was created to end. And members of this Council have a unique responsibility to make sure we don't return to it," he said.

The top US diplomat said nations must "reaffirm our commitment to upholding what the UN Charter calls 'the dignity and worth of the human person,'" emphasizing the need to continue to compile evidence of Russian atrocities with the goal of one day achieving accountability for those crimes.

"Day after day of Russia's atrocities, it's easy to become numb to the horror, to lose our ability to feel shock and outrage," he said. "But we can never let the crimes Russia is committing become our new normal."

"Bucha is not normal. Mariupol is not normal. Irpin is not normal. Bombing schools and hospitals and apartment buildings to rubble is not normal. Stealing Ukrainian children from their families and giving them to people in Russia is not normal," Blinken said.

"We must not let President Putin's callous indifference to human life become our own," Blinken said. "We must force ourselves to remember that behind every atrocity in this wretched war, and in conflicts around the world, is a human being."

Blinken stressed the need for a "just and durable peace."

China's proposal

In what could be seen as a dig at China's newly unveiled 12-point proposal "on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis," Blinken noted that he expects "many countries will call for peace today," but "history teaches us that it's the nature of peace that matters."

"For peace to be just, it must uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence. For peace to be durable, it must ensure Russia can't simply rest, rearm, and relaunch its war in a few months or a few years," he said. "Any peace that legitimizes Russia's seizure of land by force will weaken the Charter and send a message to would-be aggressors everywhere that they can invade countries and get away with it."

The 12-point plan released by Beijing Friday calls for a cessation of hostilities and resumption of peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, stating that "all parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire."

Blinken said that members of the Security Council "should not fall into the false equivalency of calling on both sides to stop fighting, or calling on other nations to stop supporting Ukraine in the name of peace."

"No member of this Council should call for peace while supporting Russia's war on Ukraine and on the UN Charter," he said.

In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" earlier on Friday, Blinken said the US was "taking a look" at China's proposal, but cautioned that Beijing is "trying to have it both ways."

"There are points in the Chinese plans ... that are consistent with things the Ukrainians have long said, that China itself has put out there," he said. "But look, China's been trying to have it both ways. It's on the one hand trying to present itself publicly as neutral and seeking peace, while at the same time it's talking up Russia's false narrative about the war. It is, as I said, providing non-lethal assistance through its companies and now contemplating lethal assistance."

In his remarks at the UN, Blinken also spoke of the need for the UN Security Council to "continue to address other challenges to international peace and security" even while working to end the war.

"We hear the concerns of countries who worry that standing with Ukraine and holding Russia accountable is diverting focus and resources from others in need," Blinken said.

"To those countries, I would say, simply, look at our actions. And when you hear Russia and its defenders accuse the countries who support Ukraine of ignoring the rest of the world, I say: look at Moscow's actions," he said, comparing the US contributions to UN programs to the contributions made by Russia.

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