The 15 members of the UN Security Council met this Monday at the request of the United States to give the Ukraine crisis a diplomatic opportunity. But the dialogue has become a new exchange of accusations between the main antagonists of the escalation of tension in Eastern Europe, the US and Russia, just 24 hours before their foreign ministers, Antony Blinken and Sergey Lavrov, address the crisis in a new telephone conversation. Russia has called the call a farce and tried in vain to prevent the meeting, with the support of China. “It is an attempt to mislead the international community and an example of megaphone diplomacy,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said of the meeting. “Imagine how uncomfortable they would be if they had 100,000 Russian soldiers at their border gates,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield replied. Even President Joe Biden has commented on the meeting, reiterating the offer of dialogue, but warning that Russia will face “serious immediate consequences” if it goes one step further.
The US and Russia have once again put forward their opposing views of the conflict: the Americans, warning that the concentration of troops on the Ukrainian border is the prelude to an invasion and about its “terrible consequences”; the Russians, branding the call for staging a case fabricated by the West and instigated by Washington. The US ambassador has accused Moscow of wanting to deploy “30,000 soldiers” in Belarus, which also shares a border with Ukraine. “We have evidence that Russia intends to increase its presence in Belarus, near the border with Ukraine, in early February. They will be less than two hours from Kiev,” he denounced. Currently, Russia has some 5,000 soldiers in the neighboring and allied country, including special forces, missiles and anti-aircraft batteries. “The deployment of more than 100,000 troops to the border [de Rusia] with Ukraine is a threat to international security and to the UN Charter”, recalled the diplomat.
Proof that the 8,960th meeting of the Security Council was not just another, President Joe Biden has ruled on the call in a statement. “The US has presented in detail the nature of Russia’s threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And we have made clear to the international community all the implications of that threat, not only for Ukraine, but also for the basic principles of the UN Charter and the international order. If Russia is sincere about addressing our respective security concerns through dialogue, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to engage in good faith. If, instead, he chooses to walk away from diplomacy and attack Ukraine, he will take responsibility and face swift and serious consequences,” Biden said, referring to the new battery of sanctions that the US Congress is finalizing, in accordance with others provided by the European and NATO allies.
“We will continue the path of dialogue, we will do everything in our power to defuse this crisis. We will not leave the table until it is resolved”, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated, after recalling the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Georgia in 2008 as examples of offensive actions -not recognized by Moscow as such- of Russia in the past; an argument that was also taken up by the representative of the United Kingdom. The ambassador’s speech reproduced in detail the accusations of the White House, and its warnings about a conflict of “devastating consequences” in loss of human life if Ukraine is invaded. The representatives of the US, the UK and France underlined the legitimate sovereignty of Ukraine, which Moscow considers to be part of its sphere of influence.
Swords have been raised even higher at the moment of greatest geopolitical tension that the world has experienced since the Cold War. It has not been a surprise, since the preludes to the meeting left no room for optimism. “We are going to enter the room ready to listen, but we are not going to let ourselves be distracted by their propaganda,” the ambassador warned the day before in statements to the ABC network, pointing out that Russia would probably try to block the Council meeting, something that, despite its veto power, failed to do: in a procedural session, ten members voted to hold it. Russia had the support of China, another permanent member of the Council, but it was not enough.
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Thomas-Greenfield had warned on Sunday: “We will be prepared to respond to any disinformation that they try to spread during the meeting.” The organization, he reiterated, “is united” against the challenge of distraction and misinformation. In response to her remarks, Russia’s permanent deputy representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, tweeted on Sunday that “it seems that, according to the American ambassador, the Council is a club of concerned people who are told by the United States what to worry about.” ”. “How considerate of our American friends!” Polyanskiy mocked in the tweet.
Ukraine, which does not belong to the Security Council, did not have a direct voice in the meeting. Kiev asked the Kremlin on Sunday to withdraw troops from the border and to maintain dialogue with the West if it is “really” willing to reduce tension. Moscow has incorporated as an argument the criticisms of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, about the “unnecessary” alarmism generated by the US accusations.
In Washington, Congress is close to reaching an agreement on a bill that provides for new economic sanctions against Russia. The Pentagon warned on Friday that the Russian military capacity on the border is total and would allow an invasion “of all of Ukraine”, with devastating results “and a significant number of deaths”. “Putin will not stop at Ukraine,” Democrat Bob Menendez, leader of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN.
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