The US and its allies are increasing pressure on Russia, warning that it risks “the mother of all sanctions” in the Ukraine dispute and threatening to confront Moscow directly at the United Nations on Monday.
The combined volley of diplomatic and economic pressure came as the West sought to prevent a Russian invasion of its neighbor. Ukraine claims the Kremlin has amassed 130,000 troops on its border; Moscow has rejected any plans for an assault but has made bold security demands of the US and NATO.
As they awaited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next action in response to those requests, Washington and its European allies attempted to put Moscow on the defensive. On Monday morning, the two sides will face off on one of the world’s most high-profile diplomatic platforms.
The UN Security Council, the organization’s most powerful body, is gathering for the first time at the request of the United States to examine tensions over Ukraine. Given Russia’s veto power and relationships to other major council members, particularly China, any official action against Moscow is improbable.
The US ambassador to the United Nations indicated ahead of the meeting that she will confront Russia on its military buildup near Ukraine.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated, “The Security Council is unified, our voices are unified in calling for the Russians to explain themselves.” “We’re going into the room ready to listen to them,” she continued, “but we’re not going to be distracted by their propaganda.” The encounter was met with skepticism in Moscow. Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy United Nations ambassador, dubbed the US action a “public relations stunt.”
On Sunday, he mocked the United States’ view of the UN Security Council as “a club of worried people with the US telling them what to worry about.”
Both sides are keeping diplomatic efforts alive, with a phone meeting scheduled between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, stated on Sunday that if Russia is sincere about not wanting a conflict, it must withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s borders. In a tweet, he stated, “Diplomacy is the only responsible way.”
Even while its friends raise the alarm, Kyiv has persistently downplayed the prospect of a Russian invasion.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, jumped on the gap on Monday, accusing Western media for providing “distorted” information that “triggers hysteria in Ukraine, where people are almost starting to pack their bags for the front lines.”
Meanwhile, Russia held further military drills on Monday, following a flurry of drills around the country last week, with the country’s Northern Fleet boats participating in anti-submarine maneuvers in the Norwegian Sea, according to the Russian defense ministry’s website.
US legislators in Washington said Sunday that they were close to reaching an agreement on a package that would amount to “the mother of all sanctions” against the Kremlin.
Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the measures would include “massive sanctions” against Russia’s largest banks, sanctions on its sovereign debt, and more “lethal” assistance to Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of the United Kingdom said the government will draft new laws on the subject this week.
In order to avoid Moscow retaliating by interrupting energy supplies to Europe, which is highly reliant on Russian gas, the US has taken steps to protect its allies from a worsening supply problem.
On Monday, President Joe Biden will visit the leader of Qatar, one of the world’s largest natural gas exporters, at the White House.