US, Russia discuss Ukraine at UN: live updates
The United States and Russia engaged in a public diplomatic brawl Monday at the UN Security Council over the Ukraine crisis, with the Americans accusing the Russians of endangering peace by massing troops on the borders of the United States. Ukraine and Kremlin diplomats rejecting what they called far-fetched comedy and incitement to fear. .
Almost immediately after the convening of the 15-nation council meeting, the Russians even objected to its holding. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia of Russia accused the Americans of fomenting “baseless accusations which we have refuted” and said the meeting would not help “bring this council together”.
He said no Russian troops were in Ukraine, questioning the basic premise of a meeting he called “megaphone diplomacy”.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield countered that many private diplomatic meetings had taken place on Russia’s military build-up and that it was “now time to have a public meeting”. She asked the other members how they would feel “if you had 100,000 soldiers sitting on your border.”
The council voted in favor of holding the meeting, with only Russia and China opposing it.
“The situation we face in Europe is urgent and dangerous,” she added. Thomas-Greenfield said in his opening remarks. “Russia’s actions strike at the very heart of the UN charter.”
The buildup of the Russian military, she said, reflected “an escalation in a pattern of aggression that we have seen time and time again from Russia.” and that if the Russians invade Ukraine, “none of us will be able to say that we didn’t see it coming”.
The council meeting, called for by the United States last week, represents the most publicized arena for the two powers to influence world opinion on Ukraine. Tensions surrounding the former Soviet republic have brought US-Russian relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.
As one of five permanent members of the council – along with Britain, China, France and the United States – Russia has the power to veto any majority decision. But the right of veto cannot be used to block a meeting.
Russian diplomats have derided the meeting as part of a manufactured setback over what they call unwarranted Western fears, instigated by the United States, that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is preparing to invade Ukraine. The Russians have also seized on complaints from the Ukrainian president and others that the Americans are needlessly spreading panic.
Mr. Putin, who has not spoken publicly on Ukraine since December, has remained silent.
His spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, told reporters on Monday that Mr Putin would give his opinion on the situation “as soon as he deemed it necessary”.
“I can’t give you an exact date,” Mr Peskov said. Russian officials continued to claim they were not responsible for the rising tensions, insisting the United States was manufacturing the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It was a rare commonality with Kyiv, where President Volodymyr Zelensky also accused the United States of unnecessarily causing “panic” in Ukraine.
Russia has sent more than 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border in recent weeks, part of an increasingly aggressive posture by Mr Putin to protect and expand what he sees as his legitimate sphere of influence. Russia in Eastern Europe. The Pentagon said Friday that Russia had mustered enough forces to stage a full-scale invasion of Ukraine at a time of its choosing.
The Kremlin accused the NATO alliance of threatening Russia and demanded that it never admit Ukraine as a member. The possibility of a diplomatic solution remained hazy at best.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov will have a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, but there are currently no plans to hold an in-person meeting, Maria V. Zakharova, Ministry spokesman said Monday.
The Biden administration has said it wants a peaceful end to the crisis, but is preparing for the possibility of what US military commanders have said will be a devastating armed conflict in Ukraine. The administration has pledged to respond with crippling economic sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine.