Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa has used an address at the United Nations to stress the need for the international rule of law.
Hayashi made the remarks while chairing a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday. Japan holds the council's rotating monthly chair for January.
Members of the council have revisited the war in Ukraine throughout the past year. They have seen Russian delegates veto resolutions meant to bring their leaders into line. Hayashi called for unity and asked members to stand by their principles.
Hayashi said, "The rule of law among nations is a universal concept. It is not about choosing camps. It is not about taking the middle ground between opposing camps."
Security Council members once again accused Russian leaders of violating international law. However, Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, dismissed such suggestions as hypocrisy.
Nebenzia said, "Western delegates just want to sell a narrative about Russia's responsibility for causing threats to international peace and security. But they ignore their own egregious violations."
China's ambassador, Zhang Jun, pointed to Western sanctions on Russia. He said the penalties have no legal foundation and reminded the council that all countries share responsibility for shoring up the rule of law.