Russia and the United States clashed sharply as the United Nations Security Council met Monday to discuss troop buildup along the Ukraine border.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia accused the U.S. and Western nations of “whipping up tensions” over Ukraine. He said the U.S. has falsely accused Russia of planning military action, saying, “You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want to make your words become a reality.”
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield answered that Russia’s military force of more than 100,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders was “the largest mobilization” in Europe for years.
“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.
The exchanges in the Security Council came as Russia lost an attempt to block the meeting. And talks between the U.S. and Russia have so far failed to ease tensions in the crisis.
The U.S. requested Monday's public discussion in the council and needed at least nine votes to open the meeting after Russia tried to block the vote. Ten council members voted in favor, Russia and China voted no, while India, Gabon and Kenya abstained.
The discussion centered on whether the build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is a threat to international peace and security - which the Security Council is charged with maintaining.
The Russian ambassador blamed the U.S. for the 2014 popular protest that led a Russian-friendly president to flee Kyiv. He claimed that it brought to power “pure Nazis,” and created the conflicts that exist between Ukraine and Russia. But Nebenzia left the meeting as the Ukrainian Ambassador started to speak.
American President Joe Biden has warned Russia that the U.S. will start "strong economic and other measures" as punishment should Moscow start a military conflict against Ukraine. He said in a statement that the Security Council meeting was a chance for “the world to speak out in one voice” calling for nations to stop “military aggression against its neighbors.”
The Security Council has met several times over the crisis in Ukraine since Russia took over Crimea in 2014. The council has not been able to take any action as Russia is one of the council's five veto powers, along with the United States, China, France and Britain.
On Tuesday, Russia takes over the council's rotating presidency for February. Some diplomats warn that Russia could delay any attempts by council members to request another discussion on actions by Russia.
The U.N. General Assembly is also set to hold its yearly discussion on "the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine" on Feb. 23.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
The Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Hai Do adapted the report for VOA Learning English.
Words in this Story
fabricate – v. to create or make up something
pretext – n. a reason that you give to hide your real reason for doing something
rotate – v. to regularly change the place or position