The American ambassador to the UN: «A crossroads in history. Putin, stop now. The dead will be thousands “

Of Viviana Mazza

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who leads Washington to the UN: «The existence of Ukraine is at stake. Putin is already receiving an answer that he did not expect “

“It was very clear from his speech on Monday that President Putin does not intend to stop at the Donbass,” he says Corriere della Sera the American ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield -. Putin questioned Ukraine’s independence and very existence. In his message to the world, he made it clear that his intentions are far more aggressive than he originally stated. And this use of the word peacekeeper
to describe the attackers who go to the Donbass … It belittles the work of the real peacekeeper
who give their lives to bring peace to the world. We know well that these are not peacemakers, they are warriors ». And he adds: “The Russians were already there but we are seeing additional troop movements now.” Thomas-Greenfield spoke yesterday via zoom with a small group of European journalists, just before his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York. A speech with dramatic tones in which he called on the Member States to become aware of being “at a crossroads in history” and on the verge of a war that risks killing thousands and leaving 5 million people homeless, “a of the most serious refugee crises that the world will have to face ». The ambassador appealed to isolate Putin, preventing him from bringing the world back «a hundred years ago, before the UN existed ». With a message between the lines to China: «Asking both sides for de-escalation means giving a pass to Russia. Moscow is the aggressor here ». Washington turned to both the foreign minister and the UN ambassador in Beijing to ask for help in resolving the crisis.

Is a diplomatic solution still possible?

«The actions last weekend are in direct violation of the Minsk agreements. I am concerned that we now have a dilemma before us. The Russians say they want to continue to enforce agreements that violate. But as President Biden said we have not given up on diplomacy: if the Russians end their current actions, if they return to the negotiating table, we can still find a path that does not lead to this devastating conflict that will cause the loss of thousands of others. lives in Ukraine. And the Russians should ask President Putin how many of their lives he wants to sacrifice to pursue his ambitions in Ukraine. “

At the UN Security Council on Monday night, China avoided taking a position, demanding restraint from both sides. Do you think they view this crisis as a test of the West’s steadfastness?

“I think the Russians have put the Chinese in a very difficult position. The Chinese have always been clear to the UN in speaking strongly in favor of sovereignty and territorial integrity. This Russian invasion is exactly an attack on the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine and thus undermines their principles. I can’t speak for them, but I wonder how they will explain this contradiction if they continue to stay aligned with the Russians. ”

Does the Biden administration fear that if the response to this crisis isn’t strong enough, it will set a precedent for other countries – and especially China’s ambitions for Taiwan?

“At the Security Council we discussed the implications for other countries in Europe. Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova … all of these countries should be concerned about the Russian aggression in the region. While it is very different from the situation in Taiwan, it worries us that if we do not respond strongly to this Russian aggression, other countries with ambitions towards their neighbors may perceive it as an open door. It is not an open door. The sanctions passed by President Biden and our allies are harsh, they will have an economic impact that the Russians have never experienced before. And China will see what happens if a conflict breaks out in Europe – and the impact it will have on them too. ‘

We have seen the first sanctions, but not all of them. Is the red line Kiev?

“As the president said, this is the beginning of an invasion, which corresponds to the beginning of the sanctions. If the Russians choose escalation, the sanctions will increase. We hope that they will hear the voices of the world today at the General Assembly and that they will come back ».

What if these measures don’t work like they did in 2014?

“It is absolutely not a return to 2014. The Russians are receiving an answer they did not expect. Their actions unified Europe and NATO. The international community has called them an affront to the United Nations Charter ”.

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