May 28, 2023

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Russia and Ukraine live updates: Moscow is ordering troops into separatist regions

Russia and Ukraine live updates: Moscow is ordering troops into separatist regions

credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The United States and allied countries denounced Russia on Monday at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Ukraine crisis, calling Moscow’s recognition of two breakaway regions and the deployment of Russian forces in them a blatant defiance of international law that threatens war.

The unusual late-evening council meeting, at Ukraine’s behest, quickly turned into a diplomatic rebuke to Russia and actions announced by President Vladimir Putin earlier on Monday.

“Russia’s apparent attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unjustified,” Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told her diplomatic colleagues. Mocking Mr. Putin’s assertion that Russian troops have been deployed as peacekeepers, she said, “That’s nonsense. We know what they really are.”

Mrs. Thomas Greenfield said Mr Putin was “testing our international order, he’s testing our resolve and seeing how far he can push all of us”, calling his attempt to re-create the Russian Empire an antiquated throwback.

Putin wants the world to travel back in time. to the time before the United Nations. To a time when empires ruled the world,” she said. But the rest of the world has moved forward. It’s not 1919. It’s 2022.”

Representatives of France and Britain issued similar condemnations. “Russia is choosing the path of confrontation,” said French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere. British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said: “Russia has brought us to the brink. We urge Russia to step back.”

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Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who said he believed the crisis would be resolved without military force, strongly criticized Russia’s actions.

“The Secretary-General considers the decision of the Russian Federation a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and contrary to the principles of the United Nations Charter,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

Even China, which often takes sides with Russia in disputes in the Security Council, made an unusually terse comment indicating some concern about Russian actions over Ukraine. “All parties concerned should exercise restraint and avoid any actions that may fuel tensions,” said Ambassador Zhang Jun.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia, who chairs the council for February and was obligated to set the date for the meeting, flatly dismissed any criticism, suggesting that diplomacy over the crisis has gone nowhere.

He framed his country’s actions as charitable aid to the Russian-speaking population of the Donetsk and Lukansk regions, known as Donbass, who have been engaged in a low-level war with Ukraine since 2014. Mr. Nebenzia described them as victims of Ukrainian attacks and ploys violating the Minsk agreements that were intended to stop this conflict.

“We remain open to diplomacy,” said Mr. Nebenzia. “However, allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we are not ready to do.”

He said the US and its allies, “instead of forcing Kiev to fulfill its obligations, were inciting Ukraine to do so” and “fomenting baseless panic over the alleged imminent invasion of Ukraine”.

The session adjourned after 90 minutes without taking any action. But Ms. Thomas Greenfield said then that council members “sent a united message that Russia should not start a war”.

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And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced the request for the meeting hours ago. Ukraine is not a member of the Council.

The request came as Russian President Putin acknowledged the two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, which could help pave the way for Russian military forces to push into Ukrainian territory.

“I have formally requested the member states of the UN Security Council to hold immediate consultations under Article 6 of the Budapest Memorandum to discuss urgent measures aimed at de-escalation, as well as practical steps to ensure the security of Ukraine,” Mr. Kuleba wrote in a letter. Twitter share.

The Budapest Memorandum refers to the 1994 agreement under which Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, former republics of the collapsing Soviet Union, gave up their stockpiles of Cold War-era Russian nuclear weapons and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in exchange for security guarantees. However, the effectiveness of the agreement has long been questioned. Ukraine and Western countries said Russia flagrantly violated the agreement in 2014 by seizing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Mr Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters earlier on Monday that the United Nations was allowing “temporary relocation” of some non-essential staff and dependents in Ukraine, where the organization has around 1,500 staff, mostly of Ukrainian nationality, and about 1,200 dependents. Among the employees, he said, are nearly 100 in the two eastern breakaway regions.