A general view during a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation between Russia and Ukraine at the UN headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, USA, 31 January 2022.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
WASHINGTON – Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN said on Monday that Kiev was still hoping for a diplomatic solution with Russia, even though Moscow was sending more troops and weapons to its border.
“If Russia has questions for Ukraine, it is better to meet and talk, not to bring troops to the Ukrainian borders and intimidate the Ukrainian people,” Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said at a UN Security Council meeting.
The Ukrainian diplomat is not a member of the council but was invited to attend as the crisis escalates at his country’s border. He pushed back Russian claims that Kyiv was ready to launch an attack.
“Ukraine will not launch a military offensive, either in Donbass, Crimea or elsewhere,” Kyslytsya said.
“The Kremlin must remember that Ukraine is ready to defend itself. At the same time, we support the need to keep diplomatic channels with Russia open,” he added.
His remarks come as an estimated 100,000 soldiers equipped with advanced weapons line Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and the northern border with Belarus, a Moscow ally.
“It is in everyone’s interest to prevent the war, or rather to prevent the renewal of an active phase of the military’s ongoing aggression,” Kyslytsya told UN reporters after the two-hour meeting.
“Everyone will suffer, even if you are far away from Ukraine,” he said, referring to possible global economic consequences of war.
The ambassadors from the United States and Russia clashed at the international forum, which did not provide any action or joint statement from the participants.
The Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, will attend a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation between Russia and Ukraine at the UN Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, USA, on January 31, 2022.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya accused the United States of “provoking escalation” at the border and of falsely accusing Moscow of preparing to invade Ukraine.
“You are waiting for it to happen, as if you want your words to come true,” Nebenzya said in comments addressed to U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Nebenzya called the United States “particularly hypocritical” for convening the UN Security Council.
“It is the Americans who hold the record for having troops outside their territory,” he said. “The U.S. military adventure has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in countries where they were supposed to bring peace and democracy,” he added.
Thomas-Greenfield defended his decision to request the meeting on behalf of the United States.
“You have heard from our Russian colleagues that we are convening this meeting to make you uncomfortable. Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you had 100,000 soldiers sitting on your border in the way that these troops are sitting on the border of Ukraine, “she said.
“You hear me clearly, this is the largest mobilization of troops in Europe in decades. And as we speak, Russia is sending even more forces and weapons to join them,” she said, adding: “What would that mean for the world? “If previous empires were allowed to start reclaiming territory by force? This would put us on a dangerous path.”
“Russia, of course, could choose another path. The path of diplomacy,” Thomas-Greenfield continued.
US UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield attends a UN Security Council meeting on the situation between Russia and Ukraine at UN Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, USA, 31 January 2022. REUTERS / Andrew Kelly
ANDREW KELLY | REUTERS
In the White House, President Joe Biden told reporters he had a productive discussion with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week.
Biden reiterated that the United States will remain “ready no matter what happens” if Russia pursues aggression instead of diplomacy.
Last week, Pentagon senior officials warned that the aftermath of a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “terrible.”
“Given the type of forces lined up, the ground maneuvering forces, the artillery, the ballistic missiles, the air forces, all packed together. If it were unleashed on Ukraine, it would be significant, very significant, and it would result in a significant amount of casualties, “U.S. Army Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told Pentagon reporters Friday.
“It would be awful,” Milley added.
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions from journalists about Russia and the crisis in Ukraine during a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, USA, on January 28, 2022.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Milley, the country’s highest-ranking military officer, said Russia’s position along Ukraine’s border was unlike anything he has seen during his four-decade military career.
He said the Russians have deployed air forces, naval forces, special forces, electronic cyber warfare, command and control, logistics engineers and other capabilities along Ukraine’s border.
The Kremlin has denied that the troop deployment is a prelude to an attack and has instead characterized the movement as a military exercise.
Russian officials have repeatedly called on the United States to prevent an expansion to the east of NATO’s military alliance.
Russia has also demanded that the United States “not establish military bases” in the territories of any former Soviet states that are not already members of NATO, or “use their infrastructure for military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.”
The United States and NATO have previously said that such a request from the Kremlin could not be granted.