USA – The emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council is seen as an 11-hour effort to prevent Russia from sending troops into Ukraine. But the message became controversial even as it was being sent.
While diplomats at UN headquarters were begging Russia to back down – “Give peace a chance”, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres begged – Russian President Vladimir Putin went on television in his homeland to announced a military operation he said was intended. to protect civilians in Ukraine.
Mr Putin warned other countries that any attempt to interfere in Russia’s activities would lead to “consequences they have never seen before”.
The council, which Russia holds the rotating presidency this month, rallied on Wednesday night after Russia said rebels in eastern Ukraine had asked Moscow for military assistance. Concerns that Russia was laying the groundwork for war broke out about half an hour later.
“It is too late, my dear colleagues, to talk about de-escalation,” Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the council. “I urge you all to do everything you can to prevent war.”
In a spontaneous exchange not often seen in a council room, Kyslytsya challenged his Russian counterpart that his country was not at the time bombing and shelling Ukraine or moving troops there. .
“You have a smartphone. You can call” officials in Moscow, Kyslytsya said.
“I have told everything I know at this point,” replied Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.
He added that he had no plans to wake up the Russian foreign minister – and said what was happening was not a war but a “special military operation.”
Kyslytsya dismissed the description outside the meeting as “lunatic semantics.”
At the council’s second emergency meeting this week on Ukraine, members found themselves delivering prepared but immediately outdated speeches. Some people ended up reacting in the second round with hasty comments added.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “At the very moment that we are gathering on the council seeking peace, Putin has delivered a message about war that completely disregards the responsibility of this council. “.
She added that a draft resolution would be presented to the council on Thursday.
The resolution would declare that Russia is violating the UN Charter, international law and a 2015 council resolution on Ukraine, a European diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the discussions. Comments are private. The diplomat said the resolution would urge Russia to return to compliance immediately.
Earlier, diplomats from dozens of countries were present at the UN General Assembly to voice complaints about Russia’s actions towards Ukraine and call for dialogue, while Russia and its ally Syria defended the countries’ interests. Moscow’s move.
Recounting a story that was being broadcast to Russians back home, Nebenzia described her country’s response to the plight of people besieged in breakaway regions. Russia claims Ukraine is engaging in violence and oppression, which Ukraine denies.
“The root of today’s crisis around Ukraine is Ukraine’s own actions,” he told the council on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on countries to use tough economic sanctions, strong messaging and “positive diplomacy” to make Russia back down. A lackluster response, he warned, would jeopardize not only Ukraine but also the very concept of international law and global security.
Meeting a day after Western powers and several other countries imposed new sanctions on Russia, the 193-member General Assembly failed to take any collective action. But comments from nearly 70 countries, which are expected to be more extensive on Monday, represent the most extensive forum on global sentiment since the crisis escalated significantly this week.
Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and pro-Russian rebels have since been fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. More than 14,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
After weeks of heightened tensions as Moscow sent more than 150,000 troops to the Ukraine border, on Monday, Putin recognized the independence of the two regions and ordered Russian forces there for what he called ” keep the peace”.
Guterres countered that, saying the army was entering another country without that country’s consent.
Late Wednesday night, as explosions rang out in Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine, Guterres’ call to “give peace a chance” had turned into a darker and more desperate plea.
“President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia,” the secretary-general said in remarks to reporters. “In the name of humanity, do not allow to begin in Europe what could be the worst war since the turn of the century.”