Tensions were high at the United Nations headquarters in New York, where rumors had been circulating all week about a possible meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
The two were expected to cross paths during a UN Security Council meeting, marking the first time they would meet since the onset of the war between their countries.
The highlight of the meeting was Zelensky's speech, and it was uncertain whether Lavrov would even stay in the room to hear it.
Kjell Lars Berge, a rhetoric professor from the University of Oslo, commented earlier in the day, saying, "He's a coward. There's no doubt he will use strong words and a sharp tone against Russia."
As it turned out, the expert was right. Lavrov chose not to stay in the room during Zelensky's speech. His empty chair was a clear sign that he had left to avoid hearing about Russia's war crimes and unexplained aggression towards Ukraine.
Russia was instead represented by its UN Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, who had to listen to Zelensky's criticism of the UN's inability to prevent the war. Zelensky also called for Russia to be stripped of its veto power in the Security Council, stating, "A country that wages war based on hatred should not have such power."
Later in the evening, Lavrov had the opportunity to speak before the UN General Assembly. He made several strange accusations against the Western world, something that has been heard many times before. Lavrov also defended Russia's use of the veto in the UN Security Council as a "legitimate tool" in international relations.