UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Friday that there should be no more doubt that Russia intends to dismantle Ukraine “and completely remove it from the world map.”
Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council that the United States is seeing growing signs that Russia is laying the groundwork to attempt to annex all of Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, including by installing “illegitimate proxy officers in Russian-occupied territories for the purpose of holding mock referendums or making a decision to join Russia.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “has even stated that this is Russia’s war target,” she said.
Lavrov told an Arab summit in Cairo on Sunday that Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptable regime.”
Apparently suggesting that Moscow’s war goals extend beyond Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region to the east, made up of Donetsk and Luhansk, Lavrov said: “We will certainly help the Ukrainian people get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti- people and is anti-historic.”
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told the Security Council on Friday that “the denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine will be fully implemented.”
“From this stage there should be no more threat to Donbas, nor to Russia, nor to the liberated Ukrainian territories where, for the first time in years, people finally feel that they can live the way they want,” he said. .
Polyansky also warned Western countries that supplied long-range artillery and MLRS surface-to-ground missiles that they were moving “the interim security line” further west, “making the goals and objectives of our special military operation even clearer.”
Thomas-Greenfield went after countries that say “one country’s security should not come at the expense of another”, asking what they call the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She didn’t name any country, but this is an opinion China has often echoed, including by its deputy UN ambassador Geng Shuang on Friday.
He told the council: “Putting one’s own security above that of others, trying to strengthen military blocs, establishing absolute superiority … will only lead to conflict and confrontation, divide the international community and make themselves less safe.”
The US ambassador also went after nations calling on all countries to embrace diplomacy without mentioning Russia, saying, “Let’s be clear: Russia’s continued actions are the obstacle to a resolution of this crisis.” Again, she did not name any countries, but a significant number of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East follow this approach.
Thomas-Greenfield cited evidence of mounting atrocities, including the reported bombings of schools and hospitals, “the killing of aid workers and journalists, the assault on civilians trying to flee, the brutal execution-style murder of those who go about their daily business in Bucha, the suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, where, according to local authorities, hundreds of people died during the occupation by Russian troops.
She said there are indications that Russian troops have “interrogated, forcibly detained, deported, ripped them from their homes and sent them to remote regions of the east” an estimated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians.
Nearly 2 million Ukrainian refugees have been sent to Russia, according to both Ukrainian and Russian officials. Ukraine depicts these trips as forced relocations into enemy territory, which is considered a war crime. Russia calls it humanitarian evacuations of war victims who already speak Russian and are grateful for a new home.
A recent Associated Press investigation based on dozens of interviews found that while the situation is more nuanced than the Ukrainians suggest, many refugees are indeed forced to embark on a surreal journey to Russia, subjected to human rights violations along the way, stripped of documents. and left confused and lost about where they are. Those who leave go through a series of so-called filtration points, where treatment ranges from interrogation and house searches to being ripped off and never seen again.
“The United Nations has information that officials of the Russian presidential administration are overseeing and coordinating filtration operations,” Thomas-Greenfield told the council.
Polyansky objected that despite Ukraine’s efforts to intimidate their citizens, “people choose the country they trust” – Russia.
He warned that heavy weapons poured into Ukraine by the West “will spill over to Europe” because of what he claimed to be “the thriving corruption under Ukraine’s political and military leadership”.
Polyansky said Western weapons “only drag away the pain and increase the suffering of the Ukrainian people”.
Addressing Western ambassadors, he said: “The goals of our special military operation will be achieved no matter how much fuel you throw into the fire in the form of weapons.”