Russia, US clash at UN over troop buildup near Ukraine

Reuters/AFP/United Nations

• UK and US to tighten sanctions on Russia
• Denmark ready to send military equipment

Tensions between Russia and the United States over Moscow’s troop buildup near Ukraine boiled over at the United Nations Security Council yesterday when diplomats from both countries fiercely outlined their positions.
Russia failed to stop what it called a ‘provocative’ Security Council meeting on its troop build-up, which the United States and other Council members called a threat to peace and international security.
“The threats of aggression on Ukraine’s border… are provocative. Our acknowledgment of the facts on the ground is not provocative,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. , to the 15-member council. “The provocation is coming from Russia, not from us or other members of this council.”
She accused Russia of having more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, with Russia and Belarus preparing “to carry out offensive action in Ukraine”.
Thomas-Greenfield said Washington had seen evidence that Moscow planned to deploy an additional 30,000 troops to Belarus earlier this month.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said there was “no evidence” that Moscow was planning military action against Ukraine and that Russia had always denied such accusations.
“Our Western colleagues talk about the need for de-escalation. However, above all, they themselves stoke tensions and rhetoric and cause escalation,” he said.
“Discussions of a threat of war are provocative in themselves. You almost call for it. You want this to happen. You wait for it to happen, like you want your words to come true,” he added.
The United States requested yesterday’s public discussion in the council and needed at least nine votes to proceed with the meeting after Russia called for a procedural vote.
Ten council members voted yes, Russia and China voted no, while India, Gabon and Kenya abstained.
Nebenzia said Russia was not “afraid” to discuss Ukraine, but did not understand the reason for the meeting, saying Moscow had never confirmed how many troops it had deployed.
The discussion focused on whether the buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine constituted a threat to international peace and security – which the Security Council is responsible for maintaining – and whether the situation warranted a public council meeting.
“What we urgently need now is quiet diplomacy, not megaphone diplomacy,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said.
The Security Council has met dozens of times on the Ukraine crisis since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
He is unable to take action because Russia is one of the council’s five veto powers, along with the United States, China, France and Britain.
The United States had described yesterday’s meeting as an opportunity for Russia to explain itself.
“We didn’t hear much,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters later. “We hope they will continue on the path of diplomacy.”
The United States and its allies have prepared a list of Russian elites in or near President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle to punish with sanctions if Russia sends troops to Ukraine, a senior US official said yesterday.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the proposed legislation would give London new powers to target companies linked to the Russian state, as well as to freeze individuals’ assets and deny them entry to Britain. Brittany.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Britain’s warning “very worrying”, saying it made Britain less attractive to investors and hurt British businesses.
“It’s not often you see or hear such direct threats to attack businesses,” he said. “An attack by a given country against Russian companies implies retaliatory measures, and these measures will be formulated according to our interests if necessary.”
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, London has become the haven of choice for a river of money from Russia and other former Soviet republics.
Transparency advocates have long called on Britain to be tougher on illicit financial flows.
Washington and London declined to name who they planned to target.
“The individuals we have identified are in or close to the Kremlin’s intimate circles and play a role in government decision-making or are at least complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” the US official in Washington said. “Putin’s cronies will no longer be able to use their spouses or other family members as proxies to evade sanctions.”
“Sanctions would cut them off from the international financial system and ensure that they and their family members can no longer enjoy the benefits of parking their money in the West and attending elite Western universities,” the official added.
The European Union, many of whose members are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has also threatened “strong political consequences and massive economic costs” for Russia for any further incursions into Ukraine.
Some NATO countries, including the United States and Britain, have sent weapons to Ukraine, although they have ruled out sending troops there to fight.
Poland said it had offered neighboring Ukraine tens of thousands of munitions and was awaiting a response.
Denmark said yesterday that it was ready to send military equipment to Ukraine.
“I am ready to send military equipment to Ukraine. We are already giving advice,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference.
“We know there is a demand for advice on cybersecurity,” she added, after a major cyberattack, attributed to Russia by Kiev, hacked Ukrainian government websites earlier this month.
However, Frederiksen said the deployment of Danish troops to the former Soviet nation was “not under discussion”.
“Like others, we want to help. We have agreed internationally to use sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine.
Denmark, a member of NATO, pledged last week to grant Kiev around 80 million euros in annual aid during the visit of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to Copenhagen.
The money comes on top of a support package worth 22 million euros announced in mid-January by Denmark’s top diplomat.

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