Russia, US exchange harsh words over Ukraine at UN

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the Biden administration of “whipping up tensions and rhetoric and provoking escalation”.

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

He blamed the US for the 2014 ouster of a Kremlin-friendly president in Kyiv, saying it brought to power “nationalists, radicals, Russophobes and pure Nazis,” and created the antagonism that exists between Ukraine and Russia.

“If they had not done this, then we to date would be living in a spirit of good neighborly relations and mutual cooperation,” Nebenzia said. “However, some in the West just do not clearly like this positive scenario. What’s happening today is yet another attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and Ukraine. ”

Nebenzia pointedly left the council chamber as the Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya started to speak. “How long Russia will pressure, will pursue a clear attempt to push Ukraine and its partners into a Kafka trap?” Kyslytsva asked.

The vote on holding an open meeting passed 10-2, with Russia and China opposed, and India, Gabon and Kenya abstaining. The vote needed nine votes to be approved.

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US President Joe Biden said in a statement that the meeting was “a critical step in rallying the world to speak out in one voice” to reject the use of force, seek military de-escalation, support diplomacy and demand accountability from every member “to refrain from military aggression against its neighbors. ”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not make any visible progress in easing tensions at their meeting in Geneva earlier this month. They are expected to speak by phone Tuesday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. A senior State Department official confirmed the Russian account.

Biden warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Thursday that there is a “distinct possibility” Russia could begin an incursion in February, but the Ukrainian leader sought to play down the war fears, saying Western alarm over an imminent invasion has prompted many investors in the country’s financial markets to cash out.

Zelensky said on Friday that “we are not seeing any escalation bigger than before,” and charged that the Russian buildup could be an attempt by Moscow to exert “psychological pressure” and sow panic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed Ukraine again in a second phone call in just over three days, the Kremlin said on Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo during their meeting at the fort of Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France in 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo during their meeting at the fort of Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France in 2019.Credit:Kremlin / AP

It said in a statement that both leaders have also exchanged views on Russia-proposed security guarantees. They also agreed to consider a meeting in person.

On Friday, Putin told Macron that the United States’ and NATO’s responses to Russian proposals on security did not address Moscow’s principal concerns. Putin also said he did not want the situation near Ukraine to escalate.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit Ukraine on Tuesday for talks with Zelensky, and will also speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge him to “step back,” Johnson’s office said. Johnson says he is considering sending hundreds of British troops to NATO countries in the Baltic region as a show of strength.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that “hysteria promoted by Washington triggers hysteria in Ukraine, where people are almost starting to pack their bags for the front line.”

Any formal action by the Security Council is extremely unlikely, given Russia’s veto power and its ties with others on the council, including China.

Speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Thomas-Greenfield said of Russia: “We’re going into the room prepared to listen to them, but we’re not going to be distracted by their propaganda.”

She said last week that council members “must squarely examine the facts and consider what is at stake for Ukraine, for Russia, for Europe, and for the core obligations and principles of the international order should Russia further invade Ukraine.”

Putin’s friends

On Friday, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said both sides have shown willingness to continue negotiations and should be allowed to continue.

The United States and the United Kingdom are prepared to punish Russian elites close to President Vladimir Putin with asset freezes and travel bans if Russia sends troops into Ukraine, the White House and British government said on Monday.

Britain urged Putin to “step back from the brink” after the Russian buildup of troops near Ukraine stoked fears of war, and warned any incursion would trigger sanctions against companies and people close to the Kremlin.

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“The individuals we have identified are in or near the inner circles of the Kremlin and play a role in government decision making or are at a minimum complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” White House spokesman Jen Psaki told reporters.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said planned legislation will give London new powers to target companies linked to the Russian state. Neither government revealed who was in their sights for sanctions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the British warning “very disturbing,” saying it made Britain less attractive to investors and would hurt British companies.

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