EU, Russia Spat over Ukraine Overshadows Environment Summit

Anger at the Russian aggression against Ukraine spilled into the United Nations Environment Program Summit in Kenya Monday.  Delegates and leaders from over 100 nations are trying to agree on a treaty to tackle plastic waste.

While addressing participants, European Union representative Virgijus Sinkevicius veered off topic.

He said celebration of a possible deal on plastic waste is “saddened” by Russia’s act of aggression against its neighbor. He added, “In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukrainians.”

The commissioner also called on Russia’s leadership to abide by international law and engage in dialogue with its neighbor.

A Russian delegate in the conference responded to the EU official by blaming the Ukraine government for not doing enough to avoid the conflict with his country.

At a news conference, United Nations Environment Assembly President Espen Barth Eide of Norway said it didn’t surprise him that controversy over the Ukraine conflict spilled over into the summit.

“The United Nations and other bodies have the right arena in dealing with peace and security and right now, the Security Council is with this issue. I think that’s the view of many, but I am not surprised this very dramatic situation appeared in statements but apart from that, both the executive director and myself make reference to it, as well as the way we have said just now this should actually strengthen our resolve, to demonstrate that there is something that works in the world and the multilateral system continues to deliver,” he said.

Russia is facing mounting international exclusion because of its invasion of Ukraine. Many western countries have imposed economic sanctions aimed at Russia and its leaders, and the world football governing body said football matches will not be played on Russian soil.

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