Ukraine crisis: Russia and the USA in the UN Security Council – politics

Things often get lively in the United Nations Security Council, but a meeting as charged as Monday’s has not been seen in New York for a long time. The topic was the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, and the very fact that it even got on the agenda caused anger.

Russia tried to prevent a public debate and requested a vote on whether the session should take place at all. However, Moscow found an ally only in China. Chinese UN Ambassador Zhang Jun argued this is not the time for “microphone diplomacy”. Ten of the 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the debate and three abstained. So it happened.

The United States had suggested the gathering, so UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield kicked things off by attacking Russia in unusually clear terms. The country is looking for a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by portraying these and other western states as aggressors. Interestingly, Thomas-Greenfield warned Russia of consequences if it “penetrated further” into Ukraine, blatantly saying that Russian soldiers were already on Ukrainian territory.

The ambassador went on to say: “The consequences (of an invasion) will be appalling, which is why today’s meeting is so important.” US President Joe Biden had previously said in a statement distributed by the White House that the meeting in New York was an important step towards the world speaking with one voice.

The US, claims the Russian ambassador to the UN, is creating hysteria

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebensia responded with a remarkable speech, in which he accused the US of fueling global hysteria, even though there was not the faintest shred of evidence that Russia was even contemplating an invasion. The massive concentration of troops on the Ukrainian border? According to Nebensya, these are normal troop movements within Russian territory. He said he didn’t understand why this meeting was being held and what there was to discuss at all. It was almost as if he were saying: “No one intends to invade anywhere.”

It is not Russia that is provocative, said Nebensya, it is the USA that is striving for an escalation. “You’re waiting for it to happen,” he said to Thomas-Greenfield, “as if you wanted your words to become reality.” In a somewhat meandering digression, he also explained that “pure Nazis” were in power on the border with Russia, and that the USA wanted to make “heroes” out of those “who fought alongside Hitler”.

Nebenzya accused the West of “pumping weapons full of weapons” on Ukraine. This is an attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Ukraine and thus prevent the “natural and fraternal coexistence of the two peoples and countries”.

After these remarks, Thomas-Greenfield asked to speak again. She was not surprised, but nevertheless disappointed by the statements made by her colleague. She reiterated the warning that in the event of Russian aggression, the West would act “firmly, swiftly and collectively,” concluding, “Your actions will speak for themselves.” It certainly had a menacing undertone to it.

Now it was up to Nebensja to ask for the floor again. He said, “What threat and escalation are we talking about here?” He then packed up his papers and left the room. His reasoning: he had to prepare for the (actually imminent) assumption of the presidency of the Security Council by Russia and meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Therefore, as sorry as he is, he has no more time.

He timed it so that he disappeared just before the words of Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya. Ukraine was invited to the meeting, as were Poland, Belarus and Lithuania (representing the three Baltic States), although these countries are not among the 15 members. Translated from the language of diplomacy into the language of the world, Nebensia’s gesture is roughly equivalent to a middle finger extended in the direction of the Ukrainian representative. The rest of those present did their best to pretend nothing had happened, but the tension was palpable.

“When the elephants fight,” says the Kenyan representative, “the grass suffers”

Despite the conspicuous absence of Nebensya, Kyslytsya made every effort to act as a de-escalator. The diplomatic channels are open, he said. If there are any questions from the Russian side, it would be better to talk to each other. Perhaps sounding too pleading on its own, he also said: “Ukraine is ready to defend itself.” US President Biden later made similar comments in the White House. We continue to rely on diplomacy. But: “We are ready, no matter what happens.”

While the representatives of France and Great Britain had previously repeated the message from the United States that they would act quickly and together in the event of escalation, China had called on all parties to remain calm. Ambassador Zhang Jun said it was actually a conflict between NATO and Russia. But NATO was a product of the Cold War. One has to leave the mentality behind and acknowledge Russia’s “legitimate security concerns.” Nebensja expressly thanked her for these words.

The Kenyan representative Martin Kimani also expressed the view that a conflict between NATO and Russia was taking place on the Ukrainian border. He appealed to the “spirit of compromise” and said a diplomatic solution must be the first, second and third priority. He concluded his remarks with an African proverb. It reads, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.”

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