Russia threatens UN over any future attack on Ukraine

The Russian envoy to the UN has warned the UN that Moscow would “bear a heavy responsibility” if it ever attacked Ukraine.

The diplomat, Vassily Nebenzia, told the general assembly on Monday that Russia would “accept full responsibility for any possible loss of life” if it ever attacked Ukraine.

He noted Russia had taken sufficient measures to avoid such an attack and said he hoped for a “gentle dialogue” to resolve the crisis.

The Russian ambassador’s remarks followed a warning on Friday from John Bolton, the US national security adviser, who said the Trump administration would intensify sanctions on Russia over the “malign activities” of the Kremlin in the US and elsewhere.

“We are in a much better place now than when President Trump came into office,” Bolton said, adding that Trump was seeking to “hold Russia accountable” for the things Russia had done. “The sanctions regime is now starting to bite, and so we are going to ramp that up in the weeks and months ahead.”

Under the Obama administration, the US and Europe froze about $7bn (£5.2bn) in Russian business assets. Last year, Trump sanctioned two Russian billionaires accused of corruption and sanctioned two key businessmen in connection with the 2016 election, actions that enraged Moscow.

Russia’s relations with the west have become increasingly fraught since the 2015 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the actions by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“While we don’t want to be fighting, Ukraine is not obliged to be in a war with Russia,” Nebenzia said on Monday. “It’s not going to be allowed to be there. The president of Ukraine has repeatedly emphasised the need to create the right conditions to protect Russian speakers and other minorities in the country.”

Nebenzia called his country a “natural part of Europe” and said Russia would have to listen to the wishes of its people.

“It must be acknowledged that we live in a multicultural society, and it is not possible to reconcile all people living in one country in the best way possible,” he said. “The laws and rules that govern our country, which recognise the law of the majority, must not be put in any way to a test by those who oppose the law of the majority.”

Nebenzia also raised concerns about the Ukraine deal struck last week in Chicago, claiming it was an example of the “unipolar world” that Vladimir Putin fears.

Putin has been accused of orchestrating the use of Russian forces and weapons in Syria, but has denied any such involvement.

“A large part of the resolution prepared [by the UN] at Chicago was not focused on Russia’s border with Ukraine,” Nebenzia said. “Instead it focused on the illegal annexation of Crimea, the rights of armed combatants and other civil and military structures there, as well as on direct interference in Kiev’s domestic affairs.”

Diplomats fear a split in the UN security council as Britain and the US called for new sanctions against Russia last month, while France and the European Union said it was acceptable to allow some sanctions to lapse while Washington debated such options.

Western powers also want to push ahead with plans to allow UN peacekeepers into eastern Ukraine. Russia opposes the move as Kiev’s latest steps towards “frozen conflict”.

Leave a Comment