Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during a press conference. File photo
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council: "This tragedy would never have happened but for Russia’s needless invasion of Ukraine and its recent missile assaults against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure.” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia countered, accusing Ukraine and Poland of trying "to provoke a direct clash between Russia and NATO.”
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The US and Albania had called for a council update on the situation in Ukraine last week, and the meeting was dominated by Tuesday’s missile strike in Poland that killed two farm workers.
Nebenzia pointed to statements by Ukraine’s president and Polish officials initially indicating Russia was responsible. NATO’s chief and Poland’s president said Wednesday there is no indication it was a deliberate attack, and was likely a Soviet-era projectile launched by Ukraine as it was fending off Russian missiles and drones that savaged its power grid and hit residential buildings.
The NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
UN Undersecretary-General for political affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that it was Russia’s "most intense bombardments” since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, and the impact "can only worsen during the coming winter months.”
She reiterated that attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international law, noted that "heavy battles” are continuing in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk and told council members "there is no end in sight to the war.” She also warned that "as long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spillover remain all too real.”
Thomas-Greenfield, the US envoy, called the barrage of more than 90 missiles that rained down on Kyiv and other cities and targets devastating civilian infrastructure "a deliberate tactic” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting. File photo
"He seems to have decided that if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country into submission,” she said.
Poland’s UN Ambassador Krzysztof Szczerski told the council "those innocent people would not have been killed if there had been no Russian war against Ukraine.” And Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said: "We should be clear that this is a tragedy that indisputably stems from Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion. And it’s inhumane assault on civilians across Ukraine.
But Russia’s Nebenzia said he wanted to remind those blaming Russia that what Moscow calls its "special military operation” wouldn’t have been needed if the Minsk agreements after the upheaval in Ukraine in 2014 that called for a degree of self-rule for the Russian-backed separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east had been fulfilled, and hadn’t led to an eight-year war.
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