Russia, US clash at UN Security Council over Ukraine – News-Herald
By EDITH M. LEDERER
UNITED NATIONS – The United States and Russia clashed at the UN Security Council on Monday, where Moscow lost an attempt to block a public meeting on Moscow’s troop buildup near Ukraine’s borders and the Western fears of an invasion.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield dismissed an accusation by Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia that Washington was trying to ‘stir up hysteria’ and use ‘megaphone diplomacy’ by convening the first meeting of the Security Council on crisis.
“Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you had 100,000 troops on your border,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
The vote on holding a public meeting passed 10 to 2, with Russia and China opposing and three abstaining. The vote needed nine votes to pass.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo then conducted an open briefing, followed by speeches from the 15-member council.
US President Joe Biden said in a statement that the meeting was “a crucial step in rallying the world to speak with one voice” to reject the use of force, seek military de-escalation, support diplomacy and demand peace. accounts of each member “to refrain from military aggression against its neighbours.
The session kicked off more high-level diplomacy this week, although talks between the United States and Russia have so far failed to ease tensions in the crisis. Russia has massed the roughly 100,000 troops near its southern neighbor’s borders, stoking fears in the west of an invasion.
Russia denies plans to launch an attack but has demanded that NATO promise never to allow Ukraine to join the alliance, stop the deployment of NATO weapons near Russian borders and to withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe. NATO and the United States call these demands impossible.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made no visible progress in easing tensions when they met in Geneva earlier this month. They are expected to speak by phone on Tuesday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a phone call on Thursday that there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could begin an incursion in February, but the Ukrainian leader sought to play down war fears, saying the Western alarm over an impending invasion had prompted many investors in the country’s financial markets to cash in.
Zelenskyy said on Friday that ‘we are not seeing a bigger escalation than before’, and accused Russia’s rise could be an attempt by Moscow to exert ‘psychological pressure’ and sow panic .
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with Zelenskyy, and will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Monday to urge him to “take a step back”, Johnson’s office said. Johnson says he plans to send hundreds of British troops to NATO countries in the Baltic region as a show of force.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that “hysteria promoted by Washington is triggering hysteria in Ukraine, where people are almost starting to pack their bags for the front line.”
While Russia could try to block the Security Council meeting if it wins support from nine of the 15 members, the US was confident it had ‘more than enough support’ to hold it, senior official says of the Biden administration who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Any formal action by the Security Council is extremely unlikely, given Russia’s veto power and its ties to other Council members, including China.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Thomas-Greenfield said of Russia: “We come into the room ready to listen to them, but we’re not going to be distracted by their propaganda.”
She said last week that Council members “must look carefully at the facts and consider what is at stake for Ukraine, for Russia, for Europe and for the fundamental obligations and principles of the international order if Russia is further invading Ukraine”.
On Friday, Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said both sides had shown their willingness to continue negotiations and should be allowed to continue.
“Russia has made it clear that it has no intention of having a war” and the Security Council should “help de-escalate the situation instead of adding fuel to the fire”, said Zhang.
On Sunday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez said that in the event of an attack, lawmakers want Russia to face “the mother of all sanctions.” This includes actions against Russian banks that could severely undermine the Russian economy and increased lethal aid to the Ukrainian military.
The sanctions under consideration would apparently be much harsher than those imposed after Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014. These sanctions have been considered ineffective.
Menendez also raised the prospect of imposing certain punishments preemptively, before any invasion.
Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Aamer Hadhani in Washington and Jill Lawless in London contributed.