Saturday, August 30, 2014

United Nations: UN Security Council Save One Accuses Moscow of Lying

According to The Associated Press, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers on Thursday (August 28) accused Moscow of having "outright lied" about its role in Ukraine, as alarmed members of the Security Council demanded that Russia remove its fighters from a new front in the unfolding crisis in Ukraine.

UN Security Council members at the emergency meeting heard from a top UN official that the spread of violence in southeastern Ukraine marked a dangerous escalation, but that the international body had no way of independently verifying the latest reports of Russia sending in troops and tanks.

The latest meeting came hours after a top Ukrainian official said two columns of Russian tanks and military vehicles fired missiles from Russia at a Ukraine border post, then summarily rolled into the country. 

That opened a new escalation in the war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia separatists and the new Ukrainian government.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia "has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied," reminding the Security Council that the meeting was "the 24th session to try to rein in Russia's aggressive acts in the Ukraine."

"Every single one has sent a straightforward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening,'" Power said, adding that Russia's force along the border is the largest it's been since it started deploying there in late May 2014.

COMMENT: Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin offered a spirited defense, saying Kiev "is waging war against its own people."

Churkin said he wanted to "send a message to Washington: Stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states."

Moscow has been virtually isolated in the two dozen previous Security Council meetings on the Ukrainian crisis, but because of Russia's veto power as one of the Council's five permanent members, the body has been impotent to act, which seemingly all parties are aware of.

Statements from NATO, Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko, the separatists, the US and the president of the Security Council left no doubt that Russia had crossed the border into Ukraine. 

The various statements cited internal reports, satellite imagery of armored vehicles and even photographs of Russian troops, including one by a soldier who was depicted as operating military equipment.

The separatists' arsenal included up to 100 tanks, 80 armored personnel carriers; 500 anti-tank weapons, and more than 100 artillery pieces, said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the Security Council President said. Russia has directly supplied almost all of this equipment throughout the conflict, Ambassador Lyall Grant noted. "Now we see irrefutable evidence of regular Russian forces operating inside Ukraine," he said.

U.N. Undersecretary-General of Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told council members the latest developments mark a "dangerous escalation in the conflict," but that the UN could not verify on its own the latest reports of Russian troops inside Ukraine.

"How many more red lines have to be crossed before this challenge can be addressed?" Pavlichenko asked the Security Council.

As the final Security Council member spoke, the German mission to the UN tweeted, "All but one #UNSC members condemn recent military escalation, call for restraint. Only one member [Russia] has a very different narrative."