- The Washington Times - Friday, January 28, 2022

U.S. officials will press Russia on its massive military buildup near Ukraine at the United Nations Security Council meeting next week, a Biden administration official said Friday.

The official said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield will confront Russia at the meeting, scheduled for Monday, about whether it sees a path for diplomacy or would rather pursue conflict.

“We see Monday’s meeting as an opportunity for Russia to explain what it is doing, and we’ve come prepared to listen. We will also be prepared to call out disinformation and diversionary tactics Russia may use, including claims Ukraine is provoking the conflict,” the official said.

At the meeting, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield will go head-to-head with Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, has denied that it intends to invade its neighbor but has demanded major changes in U.S. and NATO security policy across the region.

Moscow insists that the troop movement is to safeguard its own country. It has also warned of “retaliatory measures” if Western nations don’t address its demands, which include denying Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, membership in NATO.

The official said the Security Council needs to make a strong statement against Russian aggression.

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“In our view, it would be a dereliction of the Security Council’s duties to take a wait-and-see approach,” the official said. “In this instance, the council’s full attention is needed now.”

Russia, which like the U.S. is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the Security Council, could move to block the meeting. Given that the U.S. has announced it will take place, that means nine out of the 15 members are on board with the meeting, tying Russia’s hands.

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield will make the case that Russia is a threat to Europe overall and any aggression will have an impact beyond Ukraine.

While the Security Council has debated some of history’s most dramatic international conflicts — including the Cuban missile crisis and the 2003 invasion of Iraq — there is little it can do to bind Russia’s hands.

The official said the administration is not expecting any Security Council “products” — including a resolution — to come out of Monday’s meeting.

Instead, U.S. officials view it as an opportunity “for the world’s powers to be on the record about whether they see a path forward for diplomacy,” the official said.

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The U.N. meeting is the latest U.S. attempt to resolve the situation diplomatically. Administration officials have already participated in closed-door meetings with Russia and NATO in Brussels and at a gathering of the OSCE in Vienna. U.S. and Russian officials also met in Geneva this month.

The Jan. 31 Security Council meeting comes a day before the Russian Federation is scheduled to take over the rotating presidency of the U.N. body for the month of February.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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