China, Russia, U.S. clash at U.N. over responses to virus
UNITED NATIONS — China, the United States and Russia butted heads at the United Nations on Thursday over responsibility for the pandemic that has interrupted the world, trading allegations about who mishandled and politicized the virus in one of the few real-time exchanges among top officials at this year’s Covid-distanced U.N. General Assembly meeting.
The remarks at the U.N. Security Council’s ministerial meeting on the assembly’s sidelines came just after U.N. Secretary-general Antonio Guterres decried the lack of international cooperation in tackling the still “out-of-control” coronavirus.
The sharp exchanges, at the end of a virtual meeting on “Post COVID-19 Global Governance,” reflected the deep divisions among the three veto-wielding council members that have escalated since the virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking first, stressed the importance of U.n.-centered multilateralism and alluded to countries — including the U.S. — opting out of making a COVID-19 vaccine a global public good available to people everywhere.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the pandemic and its “common misfortune did not iron out interstate differences, but to the contrary deepened them.”
In a whole number of countries there is a temptation to look abroad for those who are responsible for their own internal problems,” he said.
The United States’ U.N. ambassador, Kelly Craft, opened her remarks late in the meeting with a blunt rejoinder.
“Shame on each of you. I am astonished and disgusted by the content of today’s discussion,” Craft said. She said some representatives were “squandering this opportunity for political purposes.”