At UN, Russia and the USA accuse Ukraine of being an exchange partner

UNITED NATIONS, (AP) -- Russia on Monday accused the West of "whipping up tensions over Ukraine" and claimed that the U.S. had brought in "pure Nazis". The U.N. Security Council debated the stormy and bellicose issue of Moscow's troop buildup close to its southern neighbor.

At UN, Russia and the USA accuse Ukraine of being an exchange partner

U.S. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield responded that Russia's increasing military force of over 100,000 soldiers along Ukraine's borders was "the biggest mobilization" in Europe for decades. She also noted that there have been an increase in cyberattacks, and Russian disinformation.

She stated that "they are trying to paint Ukraine as the aggressors to fabricate an excuse for attack, and they have no factual basis to do so."

Moscow failed to block the meeting, resulting in a series of heated exchanges at the Security Council. These exchanges reflected the gap between the nuclear powers. This was the first time that all the protagonists in Ukraine's crisis spoke openly at the Security Council, even though the U.N.’s most powerful body did not take any action.

Three Biden administration officials said that the Russian government responded to the U.S. proposal to deescalate the crisis hours later. All spoke under anonymity. An official from the State Department declined to give details about the response. He stated that it was "unproductive to negotiate publicly" and that it would be up to Russia to discuss counterproposals.

While more high-level diplomacy will be expected this week in Washington, talks between Russia and the U.S. have not been able to reduce tensions in the current crisis. The West claims that Moscow is planning an invasion. Russia denies that it plans to attack. It wants Ukraine to pledge that it will not join NATO. These are non-starters for NATO and the U.S.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russian Ambassador, accused the U.S. interference in his country's internal affairs. He called it "a classic example megaphone diplomacy."

Thomas-Greenfield replied that the U.S. had held more than 100 private meetings with Russian officials, European and Ukrainian colleagues in the last few weeks and it was now time for a public discussion.

Russia claimed that the U.S. called this meeting to make council members feel uncomfortable. She responded, "Imagine how uncomfortable it would be if 100,000 troops were sitting at your border."

Nebenzia claimed that the Biden administration had "whipped up tensions, rhetoric and provoked escalation" after the council approved the meeting.

He said, "You're almost pulling for it," as he addressed the council, while looking at Thomas Greenfield. It is what you want. It's like you are waiting for it to happen.

He claimed that the U.S. was responsible for the 2014 removal of a Kremlin friendly president from Kyiv.

Nebenzia made a point of leaving the council chamber, as Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian Ambassador began to speak. Kyslytsva was curious how long Russia would continue to pressurize Ukraine and its partners.

The vote to hold an open meeting was passed 10-2. Russia and China were opposed and India, Gabon, and Kenya abstained. For the meeting to proceed, nine "yes" votes were required.

The U.S. and its allies pressed for Monday's meeting, the last day of Norway’s rotating presidency of council before Russia takes over Tuesday for February.

Given Russia's veto power, its ties to other members of the council, and China's influence, any statement or resolution from the Security Council is highly unlikely.

After 15 members of the council spoke, the U.S. & Russia sparred again. Thomas-Greenfield stated she was "disappointed” in Nebenzia’s comments and stressed that Russian threats to aggression are "provocative".

In a statement, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that the meeting was "a crucial step in rallying world to speak out in unity" to reject use of force and seek military escalation.

Biden stated that the U.S. will continue to engage in nonstop diplomacy, but that "we are ready regardless of what happens" at the White House meeting with Qatar's ruling emir.

Monday's order by the State Department for American diplomats to leave Belarus was issued. Russia has deployed troops, tanks, and other material in what Moscow calls a military exercise.

Officials in the West fear that Russia's troop buildup could be used by Belarus to invade neighboring Ukraine, particularly Kyiv, its capital. Tens of thousands more Russian troops are already stationed along Ukraine's borders.

Belarusian officials have already expelled most U.S. Embassy staff from the country. This means that fewer family members will be affected by Monday’s order. The U.S. also reduced its diplomatic presence in Ukraine.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, and Antony Blinken Secretary of State are expected to talk by phone Tuesday. The Russian account was confirmed by a senior State Department official.

Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, will visit Ukraine Tuesday to meet with President Volodymyr Zilenskyy. Johnson's office also stated that Johnson would speak with Vladimir Putin to ask him to "step back". Johnson stated that he has considered sending hundreds of British troops in NATO countries to the Baltic region as a sign of strength.

The U.S. Congress was split Monday between Republicans and Democrats over the timing of draft sanctions legislation against Russia. The main sticking point was the Republican push to impose sanctions against a Russian natural gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2. This occurred before any Russian push into Ukraine. Biden's administration argues that it is better to wait after an invasion. They claim that sanctioning Nord Stream immediately could alienate Germany and take away the deterrent power of those sanctions.

Sen. Bob Menendez (chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) stated Sunday that Russia should be subject to "the mother of all sanctions" in case of an attack. This includes actions against Russian banks and increased lethal aid for the Ukrainian military.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated Monday that the administration is encouraged by the bipartisan effort of Congress to "hold Russia accountable." While the administration has expressed concerns about the possibility of preemptive sanctions reducing their leverage over Russia in the past, the White House seems more open to the possibility as the Foreign Relations Committee takes action.

Psaki stated that sanctions could be an effective tool for deterrence. The Russian market sell-off is a reflection of this view.

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