On December 26, 2022, while the Russian-Ukrainian War, which started on February 24, 2022, was ongoing, the Kyiv administration officials raised the issue of Russia’s expulsion from the United Nations (UN) Security Council (UNSC). The official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine stated the following:
“Ukraine calls on UN member states to renew the UN Charter on the legitimacy of Russia’s remaining in the UN, deprive Russia of the status of a permanent member of the UNSC and expel it from the UN altogether.”
Commenting on the issue, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmitry Kuleba said that Russia’s future should be discussed so that it does not threaten the peace and security of the West. Following Ukraine’s statement, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said, “If there was a way to suspend Russia’s membership in the UNSC, we would address it immediately. Unfortunately, we can’t change the rules of the UN.” Charles Michel, President of the Council of Europe, said that a mechanism should be developed to at least suspend Russia’s UNSC membership, if not to expel Russia from the organization altogether.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin stated that to change the UN provisions, the resolution must be adopted by two-thirds of the participating states, including all permanent members of the UNSC, and that such an initiative against Russia could not be realized.
Oleksiy Chepa, First Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Russian State Duma, emphasized that he was confident that the UN would not heed Ukraine’s call to expel Russia from the UNSC, that Russia’s membership was important for world peace, and that its termination would be in the interests of the United States of America (USA), not according to world rules, and would lead to international conflicts.
The UN and its supreme body, the UNSC, were established for certain purposes and shaped by the consequences of World War II. The main objective of the UNSC is to prevent the occurrence of world wars once again. It is also envisaged that states should not go to war. War is prohibited by the UN Charter.
The UN Charter stipulates that the use of force can be by international law in two circumstances. These are self-defense and events based on a UNSC resolution. However, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine was neither based on self-defense nor a UNSC resolution. Therefore, Russia violated the UN Charter, of which it is a member, and violated the international peace and security environment that the UNSC is mandated to maintain. Therefore, according to Kyiv, Russia’s membership in the UNSC should be questioned and terminated.
On the other hand, the US invasion of Iraq is similarly in violation of international law. However, while the US membership in the UNSC is not questioned, Russia’s membership is being sought to be terminated because of the war in Ukraine. Moreover, this idea is being considered not only in Ukraine but also in the US and Europe.
There are several reasons for the view and desire to terminate Russia’s membership in the UNSC. The first is related to Ukraine’s approach towards Russia. Ukraine will naturally demand the highest level of pressure on Russia because of the occupation.
Secondly, a UNSC without Russia as a member would make it easier to pass resolutions against Moscow and the veto barrier would be removed. This is a situation desired by countries that want to punish both Ukraine and Russia.
Thirdly, according to Western countries, Russia is a weakening power and is losing its status as a great power. Instead, it is thought that it would be more appropriate to make rising powers members of the UNSC. Among these states, Germany and Japan stand out. India and Brazil are also mentioned in this regard.
Last but not least, there is Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons. This is because Russia, as a member of the UNSC, is responsible for maintaining international peace and security and preventing the proliferation and use of nuclear weapons, yet it has made the regional and global security environment more fragile by expressing that it could use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, there are two major problems with the proposals to terminate Russia’s membership in the UNSC at the request of Ukraine and to make Germany and Japan members at the request of Western states. The first one is that with the possible membership of the UNSC, the decision-makers of this organization will be composed entirely of the US and its allies, with the exception of China. In other words, legitimate decision-making on global issues would be transferred to Western countries or G7 members. In such a scenario, actors who have problems in their relations with the US and the West, in general, will have even more distrust in the UN.
The second problem is how to limit the behaviour of a nuclear-armed Russia that does not bind itself to UN rules if Russia’s membership in the UNSC is terminated. As a result, Ukraine’s request raises the question of the impact of a UNSC member Russia versus a non-UNSC member Russia on international security. Ukraine, on the other hand, demands the termination of Russia’s membership in the UNSC and its expulsion from the UN in order to punish Russia.
 “Заява МЗС України щодо нелегітимності перебування Російської Федерації в Раді Безпеки ООН та Організації Об’єднаних Націй у цілому”, mfa.gov.ua, https://mfa.gov.ua/news/zayava-mzs-ukrayini-shchodo-nelegitimnosti-perebuvannya-rosijskoyi-federaciyi-v-radi-bezpeki-oon-ta-organizaciyi-obyednanih-nacij-u-cilomu, (Date of Accession: 29.12.2022).
 “Украина поднимет вопрос об исключении России из Совбеза ООН,-Кулеба”, Focus, https://focus.ua/politics/542427-ukraina-podnimet-vopros-ob-isklyuchenii-rossii-iz-sovbeza-oon-kuleba, (Date of Accession: 29.12.2022).
 “Имеет ли право Россия оставаться постоянным членом Совбеза ООН? У Украины есть ответ”, Gazeta.Ru, https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2022/12/26/16000615.shtml, (Date of Accession: 29.12.2022).
 “В России предупредили о последствиях исключения страны из Совбеза ООН”, Lenta.Ru, https://lenta.ru/news/2022/12/26/unsecuritycouncil/, (Date of Accession: 29.12.2022).