The United States and Russia have argued over Ukraine’s crisis in the UN Security Council, with Washington warning of a “terrible” war if Moscow decides to invade its neighbor and Russian diplomats downplay the threat of military conflict.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council during a special open session on Monday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would threaten world security.
“Colleagues, the situation we are facing in Europe is urgent and dangerous, and the stakes for Ukraine and for every UN member state cannot be higher,” said Thomas Greenfield, warning of “terrible” consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.
“Russia’s actions hit the heart of the UN Charter. “This is as clear and consistent a threat to peace and security as anyone can imagine,” she said.
The Russian military is gathering troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, sparking a diplomatic crisis and heightening fears in the United States and Europe that Moscow may be preparing for an impending invasion. Russia has said it plans to invade, but vehemently opposed Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO.
Moscow also wants assurances that the US-led alliance will halt its expansion into the former Soviet republics, but Washington and NATO have rejected the request as a “no-brainer”.
On Monday, Russia’s UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya accused Washington and its allies of fueling the threat of war despite Moscow’s repeated denials of a planned invasion.
“The discussion about the threat of war is provocative in itself. You almost call for it. You want it to happen. “You are waiting for this to happen, as if you want to make your words a reality,” Nebenzia said during a Security Council meeting.
“This is despite the fact that we constantly reject these allegations, and this is despite the fact that throughout this period there has been no threat of a planned invasion of Ukraine by any Russian politician or public figure.
Biden warns of “severe consequences”
Following the UN meeting, the White House again called on Russia to resolve the impasse diplomatically.
“If Russia is sincere in addressing our respective security concerns through dialogue, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to commit in good faith,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“If Russia instead decides to withdraw from diplomacy and attack Ukraine, Russia will bear responsibility and face quick and severe consequences.
Last week, the Biden administration handed Moscow a written response outlining Washington’s position on the crisis; it rejected Russia’s request to halt NATO’s eastward expansion, but opened the door to negotiations on arms control measures in eastern Europe.
But Russia’s Nebenzia reiterated on Monday that Ukraine should be banned from joining NATO. He also criticized Western military support for Kiev, saying it was fueling the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“The exception of Ukraine’s non-inclusion in NATO, the non-deployment of foreign troops on its territory – all this is only part of the agreement, which could fundamentally improve the military-political situation in Europe and the world as a whole,” he said. .
Britain is preparing sanctions
Meanwhile, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, James Kariuki, has rejected Russia’s denial of a planned invasion of Ukraine, calling on Moscow to “withdraw” its troops.
“In 2014, Russia denied this council the presence of its forces in Crimea. In fact, its troops have annexed part of an independent, democratic Ukraine, “Kariuki said. “Today, Russia denies that its forces pose a threat to Ukraine. But again, we see disinformation, cyber attacks and destabilizing conspiracies against an independent, democratic country.
Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and shortly afterwards supported a separatist uprising in the east of the country, which killed more than 13,000 people and displaced millions.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson said that he would hold a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days to ask for calm. “What I will say to President Putin, as I said, is that I really think we all need to step back, and I think Russia needs to step back,” Johnson told reporters.
The UK government has said it is laying the groundwork for punishing sanctions against Russia if it takes military action against Ukraine, and earlier Monday Foreign Minister Liz Truss announced legislation that would toughen penalties against Russian officials and businesses, as well as and people close to the Kremlin in the event of an invasion.
The proposed measures include the freezing of assets and the imposition of travel bans on targets.
“Whether you support Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine or are of wider importance to the Kremlin, we will have the power to sanction you,” Trus said. “Nothing is on the table and there is nowhere to hide.”
The Kremlin responded by accusing London of fueling tensions in Europe. “An attack by a country against Russian business implies retaliatory measures, and these measures will be formulated on the basis of our interests, if necessary,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a daily briefing.