At an emergency meeting Monday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin received no support from members of the United Nations Security Council for his efforts in eastern Ukraine to put rebels under Moscow’s authority.
Many members decried his breach of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and even close partner China advocated negotiation and a peaceful resolution.
Ukraine, the United States, five European countries, and Mexico convened the rare evening session to condemn Putin’s decision earlier Monday to recognize the independence of the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which have been at odds for eight years, and order his military to “maintain peace” there.
Russia, which has the rotating chair of the Security Council this month, had hoped for a closed session, but diplomats said they consented to an open session under tremendous pressure from Western and other members.
The United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, dismissed Putin’s announcement that Russian troops would be stationed as peacekeepers in the separatist Donbas region as “nonsense,” saying their presence is “clearly the basis for Russia’s attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.” He handed the world an option, she added, and the world “must not look away” because “history shows us that looking the other way in the face of such hatred would be a much more costly route.”
Putin is testing “how far he can push us all,” and all nations must stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, as well as the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of other countries. According to Thomas-Greenfield,
Despite the “constant efforts for de-escalation over the last weeks and days,” notably by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas De Riviere stated Russia “is choosing the road of challenge and conflict.”
“We will continue our efforts and urge on Russia to back up its words with actions when it professes to be in favor of dialogue and reverse its recognition of separatist groups,” he added.
According to reports, Russian troops and tanks are already invading Donetsk and Luhansk, and British U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward warned that “an invasion of Ukraine unleashes the powers of war, death, and destruction on the people of Ukraine.”
She encouraged the Security Council to urge Russia to halt any military action, condemn aggression against a sovereign state, and preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as well as to remind Russia of its UN Charter commitments. Given Russia’s veto authority over council decisions, this is essentially impossible.
“Russia has pushed us to the point of no return,” Woodward added. “We implore Russia to take a step back.”
In a short statement, Chinese U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said all parties “must show patience, and avoid any action that may exacerbate tensions,” but made no mention of Russia’s activities on Monday.
Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s UN Ambassador, requested that Russia revoke its recognition of the separatist areas’ independence, withdraw Putin’s “occupation forces,” and return to dialogue. He slammed the UN Security Council for its silence in the past and asked members to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The internationally recognized boundaries of Ukraine have been and will remain immutable regardless of any comments and acts by the Russian Federation,” he stated, notwithstanding Putin’s activities.
“We are dedicated to a peaceful and diplomatic route and we will stay firmly on it,” he added, noting that Ukraine has the right to self-defense under the United Nations Charter. We’ve arrived on our own turf. We don’t have any fears about anything or anyone. We owe no one anything and will not give anything away to anyone.”
He stated that “there should be no reservations whatsoever” since “it is not February 2014,” when Russia attacked and occupied Crimea, and Ukraine was unprepared. He stated, “It is February 2022.”
He accused Ukraine of ramping up shelling in Luhansk and Donetsk residential districts, as well as certain Russian towns and villages close the border, during the weekend. “As a result, it has become evident that Donbas is on the verge of a new Ukrainian military adventure,” he added, explaining why Putin made the comments earlier Monday.
At least four civilians were murdered and numerous more were injured by Ukrainian bombardment in the last 24 hours, according to rebel officials. Two Ukrainian troops were killed over the weekend, according to the Ukrainian military, while another serviceman was wounded on Monday. Pavlo Kovalchyuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military, emphasized that Ukrainian soldiers were not firing back.
Nebenzia stated, “We are open to negotiation for a diplomatic settlement.” “However, we have no intention of enabling a fresh carnage in the Donbas.”
He encouraged the US and other Western nations to “think again, lay emotions aside, and avoid exacerbating the situation.”
“No one but you can stop Kyiv’s militaristic intentions and compel it to cease shelling against the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, which might have highly catastrophic implications in these new circumstances,” Nebenzia warned, implying possible major military action.
Russia’s actions in Georgia in 2008, when it unlawfully invaded two provinces, and in Crimea in 2014, according to Albanian U.N. Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, “mean an invasion via manufacture of phantom republics.”
“Who’s next?” he wondered, adding that “every United Nations member state should be terrified.”
The Ukraine situation, according to Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani, mirrors the independence of every African country that inherited borders created by colonial powers that ignored historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. Rather of fighting, he added, African countries accepted the borders and “choose to look ahead” by adhering to the United Nations Charter and the regulations of the defunct Organization of African Unity.
Kimani criticized Russia of breaching Ukraine’s territorial integrity, claiming that its recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as separate nations “cannot be justified” while “several diplomatic channels are accessible and underway that have the possibility to give peaceful solutions.”