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Ukrainian diplomat who faces down Russia's entire Foreign Ministry
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergei Kislitsa / Getty
"My favorite ballet is Swan Lake because Swan Lake means someone died. When Brezhnev died, Swan Lake was broadcast. So, if I turn on the TV and see Swan Lake, I will know that Putin must have died," says not a random social media user but Ukraine's representative to the UN, Sergei Kislitsa.
His speeches at the UN are memorable, which is rare for this institution. Rich facial expressions, excellent intonation, and precise and sharp statements. Today Sergei Kislitsa has become a rock star of diplomacy.
Even before the war
Kislitsa was appointed permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations in 2019. He has been a career diplomat since 1992. He worked as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and in various positions in the Foreign Ministry.
Against the backdrop of Ukraine's tensions at the UN, Kislitsa grew tougher and used unusual methods. For example, here is what he said in February 2020 after the separatists attacked the Ukrainian military near Debaltsevo:
"I would like to remind you that about 90 years ago, in a small Siberian town in the Irkutsk region with the romantic name of Zima, a son was born to a Baltic German, Alexander Gangus, the son of Rudolf Gangus. He was the same poet who, returning from a trip to the West at the height of the Cold War, wrote the famous poem "Do the Russians Want War?" It was Yevgeny Yevtushenko. And I'll quote: "Do the Russians want war? You should ask the soldiers who lie under the birches. Their sons will answer you if the Russians want war".
Of course, Kislitsa didn't stop at poems. Especially on February 24, the day the war began.
"There is no purgatory for war criminals"
Putin announced the start of the war the same day another meeting of the UN Security Council started. Everyone learned the news at the exact moment. And Kislitsa, without waiting for any instructions from Kyiv, turned to Russian representative Vasily Nebenza and asked him to confirm that "Russian troops are not bombing Ukrainian cities." Nebenza remained silent and then clumsily tried to justify himself and change the subject.
Photos of Kislitsa reading this book appeared on Twitter, Reddit, and the rest of social media, which is surprising for a UN that most people usually don't care about. But the ambassador was able not only to send a message with his attitude but also to draw public attention to the organization. It happened not for the first time and not for the last.
Caught in the act
The last time Kislitsa loudly put Russian diplomats in their place and refuted their fakes happened in early April at a UN Security Council meeting. The Russian representative read out excerpts from an interview given to Meduza by a local deputy as "proof" that there were no war crimes in Bucha. However, he read out only the parts that benefited him, taking advantage of the fact that it is unlikely that the UN reads Russian media.
But then Kislitsa took the floor. He quickly found the article and read the passages about the Russian military throwing grenades into basements and the like from his phone.
"You wanted to quote that interview, didn't you? So why didn't you quote it in full? It's about your humanitarian aid followed by a grenade," Kislitsa asked rhetorical questions and put the phone away. Well, Nebenzya didn't reply.
In fact, in the international arena, Kislitsa successfully defeats all Russian diplomacy and propaganda. Therefore, he already has his own fan club: just like Vitaly Kim and Alexey Arestovich.