UN council backs talk, but no Russia pledges against invasion

Each member of the United Nations Security Council called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. Even the Russian deputy foreign minister said that everything should be done to find a diplomatic solution. But he did not respond to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s call to unequivocally declare that Russia would not invade Ukraine.

So what Blinken calls the most immediate threat to international peace and security in the world today remains, all eyes still on Russia.

The annual meeting of the Security Council is called by Russia to focus on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements aimed at restoring peace to eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been at war with government troops. since Moscow invaded Crimea in 2014.

The open session brings together all the key players now facing broader security grievances from Moscow: NATO is asking NATO to ban Ukraine from joining the alliance, which its members consider impossible. .

Blinken, alluding to his predecessor Colin Powell’s speech to the Security Council in 2003 that presented purported US evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion which turned out to be erroneously, telling council members he wanted clarification: “I’m not here today to start a war, but to stop one.”

But Blinken said US information shows that more than 150,000 troops Russia has amassed around Ukraine “are preparing to launch an attack against Ukraine in the coming days.”

He said the world can expect Russia to “make up an excuse” for its attack, be it fabricating a terrorist bombing inside Russia, inventing a mass grave, staging an attack. drone attack against civilians or a mock or real attack using chemical weapons. Over the past few days, Russian media “have begun to spread a number of alarms and these false statements in order to maximize public outrage,” he said.

Blinken outlines a scenario in which high-level Russian emergency meetings could take place, with the government having to respond “to protect Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine”, followed by missile and bomb attacks, jamming the country’s communications, shutting down key Ukrainian facilities, and tanks and troops advancing on key targets including the capital Kyiv.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, who spoke shortly before Blinken, did not mention the military build-up on the Ukrainian border. Instead, he accused Ukraine of failing to implement the Minsk Agreements, which he called “the only legal basis for resolving civil conflicts in eastern Ukraine.” And he accused Ukraine’s “Western donors” of supporting the government, which has pushed “Ukrainian hotheads to new causes and military adventures against their own people.”

“Many millions of people in (eastern) Donbass are still presented as foreigners in their home country,” Vershinin said. They have automatic rifles, sniper rifles, Howitzers and attack drones aimed at them. surname”.

The Russian minister referred to a document sent to the Security Council on Wednesday night alleging that crimes had taken place in southeastern Ukraine, telling members: “You will be appalled by that. “

After 15 council members spoke, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the US hoped to hear a response from Vershinin to Blinken’s call for Russia to announce that it would not invade Ukraine. .

“But instead, it’s a continuation of misinformation and rhetoric that we keep hearing, and we’ve heard before,” she said.

Vershinin replied that “no one” has or will say words on behalf of Russia such as “war of aggression” have been used by some council members.

He later told reporters that “we reiterate very firmly our commitment to a peaceful and de-escalating solution to this crisis, based again on the Minsk agreements.”

He called on Western capitals to “reduce and put an end to this hysteria about Russia’s intentions in the region”, and reiterated Moscow’s announcement that after the military exercises, Russian troops would return to the region. to their bases in Russia.

“I believe in diplomacy and am happy that our partners believe in diplomacy,” Vershinin said. “Certainly we should do all we can to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to this inter-Ukrainian crisis and conflict.”

But Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that “what we hear from Russia today and outside Russia in recent days is exactly the kind of fallacy and disinformation that we and others have warned about.” .”

“The remaining members of the Security Council have sent a clear, clear message to pursue diplomacy, not confrontation,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is not the path Russia has chosen.”

European council members France, Ireland, Albania and Norway, along with Germany, Estonia and the European Union delegation have repeated the urgent appeal by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to tackle the crisis crisis in Ukraine through diplomacy and call for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements beginning with a ceasefire.

British Deputy Foreign Secretary James Cleverly called on Russia to “”match words with action, withdraw troops, engage in meaningful negotiations and act in the best interest of peace, security and stability. in Europe. “

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun, a close ally of Russia, said Beijing follows Guterres’ view that even the most difficult problems can be resolved diplomatically and with support. “His good offices are meant to reduce stress.” But he also supported Moscow’s opposition to Ukraine’s NATO membership.

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