Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russia, US exchange accusations over Ukraine at UN

Russia accused the West on Monday of “whipping up tensions” over Ukraine and said the U.S. had brought “pure Nazis” to power in Kyiv as the U.N. Security Council held a stormy and bellicose debate on Moscow’s troop buildup near its southern neighbor. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield shot back that Russia’s growing military force of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders was “the largest mobilization” in Europe in decades, adding that there has been a spike in cyberattacks and Russian disinformation. “And they are attempting, without any factual basis, to paint Ukraine and Western countries as the aggressors to fabricate a pretext for attack,” she said. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the U.S. of interfering in his country’s internal affairs and seeking “a classic example of megaphone diplomacy.” Thomas-Greenfield countered that the U.S. has held over 100 private meetings in the past few weeks with Russian officials and European and Ukrainian colleagues and “it’s now time” for a discussion in public. (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/russia-us-exchange-accusations-over-ukraine-at-un/ar-AATl2TM) The harsh exchanges in the Security Council came as Moscow lost an attempt to block the meeting and reflected the gulf between the two nuclear powers. It was the first open session where all protagonists in the Ukraine crisis spoke publicly, even though the U.N.’s most powerful body took no action. Hours later, the Russian government sent a written response to a U.S. proposal aimed at deescalating the crisis, according to three Biden administration officials. The officials all spoke on the condition of anonymity. A State Department official declined to offer details of the response, saying it “would be unproductive to negotiate in public” and that they would leave it up to Russia to discuss the counterproposal. Although more high-level diplomacy is expected this week, talks between the U.S. and Russia have so far failed to ease tensions in the crisis, with the West saying Moscow is preparing for an invasion. Russia denies it is planning to attack. It demands pledges that Ukraine will never join NATO, a halt to the deployment of NATO weapons near Russian borders and a rollback of the alliance’s forces from Eastern Europe. NATO and the U.S. call those nonstarters.

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