Russia’s representative to the UN Security Council said on Monday that his country “does not want a bloodbath in Donbas” (Eastern region of Ukraine) and assured that there is “unfounded panic over the invasion of Ukraine” in many Western countries.
The session was convened urgently at the request of Ukraine in response to the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognize the self-proclaimed states of Donetsk and Lugansk (which form the Donbas region) and the subsequent sending of troops to these two enclaves, an announcement that has aggravated a conflict that has been brewing for several weeks.
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VideoThe UN meets urgently; Russia says it is open to diplomacy
The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, listened unperturbed to the statements of the member countries of the Council, most of whom condemned the attack against the integrity territorial and sovereignty of Ukraine, with the notable exceptions of China and India, which were limited to generic calls for diplomacy.
The session ended without any agreement and without the bloc of allied countries of the United States announced the new sanctions against Russia that they promised from their respective capitals and that will supposedly materialize in the next few hours.
In reality, the Council session, convened with unusual haste -with only two hours in advance – and at night, something that only happens on the eve of major conflicts, did not serve to advance the conflict one iota, since Russia denied that the recognition of Donestk and Lugansk or the sending of additional troops supposes a qualitative change on the ground.
UN Security Council holds an emergency meeting this Monday night
The Russian ambassador regretted that none of the speakers remembered the civilian population of Donbas, which he estimated at four million people, of which 60,000, Most of them women and children, have fled as refugees to Russia in recent days, fleeing -he affirmed- from the bombardments of the Ukrainian army.
“It is to protect that population” -Nebenzia maintained- that Russia is going to sending soldiers on what he called “peace missions”, while denouncing the Ukrainian government for “infiltrating subversive groups in Donbas to sabotage civilian infrastructure”.
But the tone of the Russian ambassador was not bellicose, rather, as has become customary in recent debates in the Security Council, he tried to refute the accusations raining down on him from the United States, backed en bloc by the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Ireland and Albania.
“Putin is testing the international system and seeing how far can put pressure on the UN,” said US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, adding that Putin’s recognition of the two republics violates international law and is nothing but a prelude to an invasion, which was denied by the Russian.
Some countries distance themselves from Russia
China, India and the United Arab Emirates, allies of Russia in other conflicts, as well like Brazil, they avoided criticizing Moscow and limited themselves to generic calls for negotiations; the Chinese ambassador was the one who was most reluctant to break his traditional alignment with Moscow by recalling that the conflict in Ukraine was “the result of many complex factors”.
But other countries that in recent days were equidistant they disassociated themselves from Russia, in clear disagreement with the unilateral recognition of these two republics in eastern Ukraine because they considered that it is a breach of a pillar of the world order such as the sovereignty and integrity of the member states of the UN.
(You can read: What is Putin looking for in Ukraine and 6 other questions about the crisis with Russia)
Thus, Mexico, Gabon, Ghana and Kenya had, with nuances, words of condemnation against what they considered an attack on Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, stressing that it also represents a violation of the 2015 Minsk Agreements whose primacy has been claimed by Moscow as the basis for any solution on Ukraine.
The representative of Ukraine in the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, who had been invited to this extraordinary session, also took the floor and, in a measured tone, demanded his country’s right “to individual self-defense and collective”, and although he said he was betting on diplomatic channels, he also proclaimed: “We are not afraid of anything or anyone, nor are we going to cede anything to anyone.”
“The United Nations is sick with a virus , the Kremlin virus, he said; Will they succumb to this virus? It depends on them,” he concluded.