Nearly six decades after Adlai Stevenson told Soviet UN Ambassador Valerian Zorin he would “wait until hell freezes over” for a response to accusations that the USSR had placed nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba, the Biden administration is hoping the UN Security Council will once again provide the US with an appropriate venue to confront Russian aggression before the court of world opinion.
The security council will meet on Monday in an open session at the request of US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield to discuss Russia’s deployment of more than 100,000 troops on its’ Eastern border with Ukraine, which Ms Thomas-Greenfield called “a matter of crucial importance to international peace and security” in a Thursday statement announcing the meeting.
A senior administration official who briefed reporters on plans for the session Friday afternoon said Russia’s threats against Ukraine “strike at the heart of the UN Charter and have grave implications for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” as well as the “safety and security” of all UN member states.
“This is precisely the type of situation the UN and the Security Council in particular, were created to address,” added the official, who characterised US plans as an attempt at “preventative diplomacy”
A second official called the ongoing Russian build-up “a clear threat to peace and security” for which the security council has “primary responsibility” under the UN charter, and said the council would be derelict in its’ duties if it were to “take a wait and see approach” to the situation.
“In this instance, the council’s full attention is needed now to examine the facts and consider what’s at stake for Ukraine for Europe and for the international order should Russia further invade Ukraine,” the official said.
The official said Ms Thomas-Greenfield would use Monday’s session to “present the facts of the case” against Russia and “clearly articulate what’s at stake for European and global peace and security”.
Quoting Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the official said a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would mean “opening a pandora’s box across the globe” and would also undermine the principles of both the international order that has stood since the end of the Second World War as well as the UN charter “which for nearly 80 years has stood upon a foundation of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states”.
The official also said the US plans come to Monday’s meeting “prepared to listen” for Russia “to explain what it is doing,” but warned that US officials are equally prepared to “call out” any “disinformation” or “diversionary tactics” Russian officials may try to deploy, including claims that Ukraine or Nato are responsible for provoking the current tensions.
The security council will take up the matter of Russia’s threats against its’ neighbor after more than 100 separate American engagements with Russian diplomats alongside officials from Nato, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and Ukraine failed to convince Moscow to de-escalate the situation by withdrawing any of the forces it has moved to Ukraine’s doorstep.
While the United States and its’ allies have threatened punishing sanctions against Moscow — and against Russian President Vladimir Putin himself — if Russian forces cross into Ukrainian territory, the Biden administration has so far ruled out imposing any of the sanctions preemptively.
But the chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Rusian Stefanchuk, has asked a group of eight US senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Democrats Bob Menendez (the committee’s chairman), Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Murphy and Ben Cardin, as well as Republican senators Jim Risch (the ranking GOP member), Rob Portman, John Cornyn, and Lindsey Graham — to include preemptive sanctions in a legislative package “to deter a new stage of Russian aggression”.