Home / World News / Live Updates: U.S. and Russia Accuse Each Other at U.N. of Stoking Ukraine Crisis

Live Updates: U.S. and Russia Accuse Each Other at U.N. of Stoking Ukraine Crisis

ImageRussia and the United States clashed at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday over a massive Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border. 
Russia and the United States clashed at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday over a massive Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border. Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The United States and Russia engaged in a bitter diplomatic brawl Monday at the U.N. Security Council over the Ukraine crisis, as the Americans accused the Russians of endangering peace by massing troops on Ukraine’s borders while Kremlin diplomats dismissed what they called hysterical U.S. fearmongering.

“The situation we are facing in Europe is urgent and dangerous,” the United States ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in her opening remarks to the council. “Russia’s actions strike at the very heart of the U.N. charter.”

Her Russian counterpart, Vasily Nebenzia, portrayed the Americans as provocateurs, “whipping up tensions and provoking escalation,” as he insisted that Russia had no plan to invade Ukraine.

“You are almost pulling for this,” he said, looking at Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield. “You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want to make your words become a reality.”

The meeting of the 15-nation council, requested by the United States last week, represented the highest-profile arena for the two powers to sway world opinion over Ukraine.

The tensions surrounding the former Soviet republic have been smoldering since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula nearly eight years ago after a Russia-friendly government in Ukraine was ousted. The tensions have escalated sharply in recent months and brought U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Russia has sent more than 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border in recent weeks, as part of President President Vladimir V. Putin’s effort to protect and enlarge his county’s sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin has accused the NATO alliance of threatening Russia and has demanded that it never admit Ukraine as a member.

The Biden administration has vowed to respond with crippling economic sanctions on Russia if it invades Ukraine.

The Security Council meeting adjourned after two hours with no action taken — although none had been expected. Mr. Nebenzia left the meeting before it was over. Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield told reporters afterward that the Russians “didn’t give us the answers we hoped they’d provide.”

But the Biden administration regarded the meeting as an important venue to display the resolve of the United States and its allies to confront Russia over what they see as its threat to invade Ukraine.

“We made clear to the international community the full implications of that threat — not just for Ukraine, but for core tenets of the U.N. Charter and the modern international order,” Mr. Biden said in a White House statement about the meeting.

“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,” Mr. Biden said. “If instead Russia chooses to walk away from diplomacy and attack Ukraine, Russia will bear the responsibility, and it will face swift and severe consequences.”

The meeting had the Cold War atmospherics of the angry debates that once punctuated Security Council sessions during the tense days of faceoffs between the United States and Soviet Union decades ago.

Immediately after the council convened, the Russians lost a procedural challenge to holding the meeting. Mr. Nebenzia of Russia accused the Americans of fomenting “unfounded accusations that we have refuted.” He said no Russian troops were in Ukraine, questioning the basic premise of a meeting he described as “megaphone diplomacy.”

Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield countered that many private diplomatic meetings had been held about Russia’s military buildup and it was “now time to have a meeting in public.” She asked other members how they would feel “if you had 100,000 troops sitting on your border.”

The council voted to proceed, with only Russia and China objecting. Though both are permanent members of the council, along with Britain, France and the United States, they cannot use their veto power to block a meeting under United Nations rules.

The Russian military buildup on Ukraine’s borders, Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield said, reflected “an escalation in a pattern of aggression that we’ve seen from Russia again and again.” While she emphasized American desires for a peaceful outcome, Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield said that if the Russians invaded Ukraine, “none of us will be able to say we didn’t see it coming.”

Mr. Nebenzia, in his remarks, said Russia wanted peace and that the United States and its Western allies had manufactured a nonexistent crisis to weaken Russia and drive a wedge between it and Ukraine.

He said the United States was behind the 2014 change of government in Ukraine that had driven a pro-Moscow leadership from power and had installed “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis.” He accused his American counterpart of having made a “hodgepodge of accusations but no specific facts.”

Mr. Nebenzia drew an analogy to the false American evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that preceded the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, adding that “what happened to that country is known to all.”






Other military or air installations

Russia has begun moving

troops, armor and advanced

antiaircraft systems into

Belarus, a close ally.

Around 130,000 Russian troops

have been deployed near the

Ukrainian border.

Forces deployed north of

Ukraine could stretch

the country’s forces thin and

threaten its capital, Kyiv.

Approximate line

separating Ukrainian and

Russian-backed forces.

Nearly 20,000 troops are near

two breakaway provinces, where

Ukraine has been locked in a

grinding war with Russian-backed

separatists since 2014.

Other military or air installations

Around 130,000 Russian troops

have been deployed near the

Ukrainian border.

Russia has begun moving

troops, armor and advanced

antiaircraft systems into

Belarus, a close ally.

Approximate line

separating Ukrainian and

Russian-backed forces.

Nearly 20,000 troops are near two

breakaway provinces, where Ukraine

has been locked in a grinding

war with Russian-backed

separatists since 2014.

Around 130,000 Russian troops

have been deployed near the

Ukrainian border.

Russia has begun moving

troops, armor and advanced

antiaircraft systems into

Belarus, a close ally.

Approximate line

separating Ukrainian and

Russian-backed forces.

Nearly 20,000 troops are near two

breakaway provinces, where Ukraine

has been locked in a grinding

war with Russian-backed

separatists since 2014.

Around 130,000 Russian troops

have been deployed near the

Ukrainian border.

Russia has begun moving

troops, armor and advanced

antiaircraft systems into

Belarus, a close ally.

Nearly 20,000 troops are near

two breakaway provinces, where

Ukraine has been locked in a

grinding war with Russian-backed

separatists since 2014.


Note: Numbers for newly arrived troops to Belarus, parts of Crimea, and western Russia are rough estimates.

Mr. Nebenzia’s remarks reinforced a message that other Kremlin diplomats have sought to project that the Security Council meeting was a manufactured contretemps over what they call unjustified Western fears, instigated by the United States, that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. The Russians have also seized on recent complaints by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and others that the Americans are needlessly sowing “panic.”

Mr. Putin, who has not spoken publicly about Ukraine since December, maintained his silence.

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