US and Russia spar over Ukraine crisis at UN Security Council | Ukraine-Russia crisis News

The United States and Russia have discussed the Ukraine crisis at the UN Security Council, with Washington warning of a “horrific” war if Moscow decides to invade its neighbor and Russian diplomats downplaying the threat of military conflict.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council during a special open session on Monday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would pose a threat to global security.

Colleagues, the situation we face in Europe is urgent and dangerous, and the commitment to Ukraine and to any UN member state could not be greater,” said Thomas-Greenfield, warning of “horrific” consequences if Russia attacks Ukraine.

“Russia’s actions go to the heart of the UN charter. This is as clear and consistent a threat to peace and security as anyone can imagine,” she said.

The Russian military has gathered troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, sparking a diplomatic crisis and heightening American and European fears that Moscow may be preparing for an imminent invasion. Russia has denied any plans to invade, but has vehemently opposed Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO.

Moscow also wants security guarantees that the US-led alliance will halt its expansion into former Soviet republics, but Washington and NATO have rejected the demand as a “non-starter”.

On Monday, Russia’s UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya accused Washington and his allies of stirring up the threat of war, despite repeated denials of a planned invasion by Moscow.

“The discussions about the threat of war are provocative in themselves. You almost call for it. You want it to happen. You wait for it to happen as if you want your words to become reality,” Nebenzya said at the Security Council meeting.

“This is despite the fact that we consistently reject these allegations, and this despite the fact that no threat of a planned invasion of Ukraine has been uttered from the mouth of any Russian politician or public figure during this entire period.”

Biden warns of ‘serious consequences’

After the UN session, the White House again called on Russia to break the deadlock diplomatically.

“If Russia is sincere in addressing our respective security concerns through dialogue, the United States and our allies and partners will continue to act in good faith,” US President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“If Russia instead chooses to distance itself from diplomacy and attack Ukraine, Russia will bear the responsibility and face swift and serious consequences.”

Last week, the Biden administration delivered a written response to Moscow outlining Washington’s position on the crisis; it rejected Russia’s demand to halt NATO’s expansion eastward, but opened the door to negotiations on arms control measures in Eastern Europe.

But on Monday, Russia’s Nebenzya again said that Ukraine should be barred from joining NATO. He also criticized Western military support for Kiev, saying it fueled conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s exception to NATO, the non-deployment of foreign troops on its territory – all this is only part of the agreement that could fundamentally improve the military-political situation in Europe and for the world as a whole,” he said. he. .

“Russia’s actions go to the heart of the UN charter,” US envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield said [Richard Drew/AP Photo]

UK preparing sanctions

Meanwhile, James Kariuki, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the UN, rejected Russia’s denial of a planned invasion of Ukraine and called on Moscow to “resign” its troops.

“In 2014, Russia denied to this council the presence of its troops in Crimea. In reality, his soldiers annexed part of an independent, democratic Ukraine,” Kariuki said. “Today Russia denies that its troops pose a threat to Ukraine. But again we see disinformation, cyber attacks and destabilizing plots against an independent, democratic country.”

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and soon after supported a separatist uprising in the east of the country that killed more than 13,000 people and displaced millions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will hold a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days to urge calm. “What I’ll say to President Putin, as I’ve said before, is that I think we really all need to step back from the brink, and I think Russia needs to step back,” Johnson told reporters.

The British government has said it is laying the groundwork for sanctions against Russia if it acts militarily against Ukraine, and earlier on Monday Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced legislation that would extend the sanctions against Russian officials and companies and individuals nearby. of the Kremlin would tighten. in the event of an invasion.

The proposed measures include asset freezes and travel bans on targeted individuals.

“Whether you support Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, or you are of greater significance to the Kremlin, we will have the power to impose sanctions on you,” Truss said. “Nothing is off the table and there is no place to hide.”

The Kremlin responded by accusing London of mounting tensions in Europe. “An attack by a particular country on Russian affairs implies retaliatory measures, and these measures will be formulated according to our interests if necessary,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during his daily press conference.

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