U.S. to Russia: You cannot veto our voices

Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield

FILE PHOTO: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield delivers remarks at the Security Council Stakeout

United States Ambassador to the UN, Ms Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on Friday told her Russian counterpart Amb. Vasily Nebenzya that he could not veto the voices of countries speaking against the invasion of Ukraine.

Thomas-Greenfield said this after Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops, a move several Council members said was deplorable but inevitable.

Although Russia, a permanent member of the Council, refused to support the draft resolution, 11 of the 15-member UN body voted in favour while India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the vote.

“You can veto this resolution but you cannot veto our voices; cannot veto the truth; cannot veto our principles; cannot veto the Ukrainian people; cannot veto the UN Charter…and you will not veto accountability,” she said.

The U.S. Ambassador attested that despite a reckless, irresponsible Member State, the United States would continue to stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.

The draft resolution, which her country had helped craft, Thomas-Greenfield painted a picture of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that was “so bold, so brazen,” that it threatens the international system “as we know it”.

UK Ambassador, Ms Dame Woodward described how women and children in Kiev, pensioners in Odessa and people all over Ukraine are “sheltering from Russia’s onslaught”.

She upheld that the draft resolution sends “a message to the world that the rules we built together must be defended because otherwise, who will be next”.

Moreover, President Vladimir Putin’s “massive invasion” of Ukraine to remove the government is “a naked aggression” that must be condemned, Woodward added.

After the vote, the UK Ambassador pointed out that Russia was the only Council Member to vote against the draft.

“Make no mistake, Russia is isolated, it has no support for the invasion of Ukraine,” she said, noting that history will record what has happened today and that the United Kingdom stands “firmly in support” of the Ukrainian people and will hold Russia accountable.

After voting for the failed resolution, France’s Ambassador, Nicolas de Rivière, said that Russia’s “premediated aggression” is killing civilians and destroying infrastructure with the goal of rebuilding the Russian empire.

While other members expressed their commitment to international law, Russia vetoed it.

“Russia is alone,” he observed, adding that “within the UN and in all bodies, France will continue to mobilise with its partners to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people”.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said that he would not respond to those who have criticised him of abusing his veto power.

Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of February, chairs the Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine.

He accused the draft’s sponsors of “spinning tales” about the true situation in Ukraine, including Western allies’ attempts to cover up the fact that they had been flooding the Donbas with weapons.

“You have made Ukraine a pawn in your own game… this resolution is nothing other than yet another brutal, inhumane move on this Ukrainian chessboard,” he said.

Speaking to the representatives of France, the UK and US, he said that there was no verifiable confirmation about the death of Ukrainian civilians; that photographs of supposed Russian artillery “is fake”; and that reports of attacks on civilian infrastructure were untrue.

Moreover, with its history of aggressions against other countries, the United States was “in no position to moralise”.

Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya asserted that he would not respond to the “diabolical script” read by the Russian Ambassador, which was in fact “a detailed application for a seat in Hell”.

He recalled that when the Council was discussing the situation in Ukraine earlier in the week, Russia bombed his country and sent forces across the border, including through Belarus.

Therefore, he was not surprised that Russia voted against the text, he said, denouncing the actions of “the Kremlin regime”.

Kyslytsya asked the Ambassadors to remember how many times the Russian Ambassador said his country would not invade or bomb Ukraine.

But after what has happened in recent days, “how can we trust you? You have no idea what is on the mind of your President,” he declared.

The Ukraine Ambassador also noted that according to the rules of procedure, Russia should not have been presiding over a meeting of which his country was the subject.

The Ukraine Ambassador asked the Council to dedicate a moment of silence “for peace… and to pray for the souls of those that have already been or may be killed”, inviting the Russian Ambassador to “pray for salvation”.

This was followed by solemn applause throughout the Chamber.

Noting that nothing could justify the bombing of hospitals and kindergartens –considered war crimes under the Rome Statute – he said that Ukraine was collecting evidence to send forward to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In addition, Kyslytsya called on nations to break off diplomatic relations with Russia, and international organisations to end their relations with that country.

“You should stop wiping your feet” on the words of the Secretary-General and the work of the UN, and “show respect for the principles enshrined in the Charter,” he said.

The Ambassador maintained that Ukraine remained open to negotiations, but it was Russia that had launched an offensive that sent “thousands of troops” into its territory.

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