NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield following a vote by the U.N. Common Meeting to sentence Russia’s annexations in Ukraine.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The United Nations has a message for Russia – we condemn the tried annexation of 4 areas of Ukraine. Additionally, you’ll not be allowed to intimidate the world. Yesterday the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to demand Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and referred to as on all international locations to not acknowledge Russia’s unlawful annexations of 4 areas in Ukraine. However does the U.N. have any method to implement the powerful discuss? Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador, welcome again to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thanks very a lot. And I am delighted to be right here.
KELLY: This vote is designed to ship a powerful sign. I noticed how you set it. You stated it means Ukraine’s borders keep the identical within the eyes of the world stage. However – and it is a important however – this isn’t legally binding. So what do you hope that it’s going to truly accomplish?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Properly, I believe it accomplishes two issues. First, it sends a message to the Ukrainian those who the world has not forgotten them and that we’ll not stand by and permit Russia to get away with what is really an unlawful act in opposition to every part that all of us consider in. However the second half is much more necessary. It sends a message to Putin and to the Russians that they’re remoted, that they won’t get away with this and that the world will condemn their actions. We acquired a monumental 143 member states to face up for territorial integrity. And their isolation right here may be very clear.
KELLY: I heard you say it is about sending a message to the Ukrainians, to Russia. However the U.N. has despatched quite a lot of messages. This isn’t the primary U.N. decision on Russia this yr. Again on March 2, you all voted to demand that Russia instantly finish army operations in Ukraine. Pull out. That clearly did not occur. So let me push you on this. What offers you confidence – do you have got any confidence this newest decision may change Russia’s conduct?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You already know, I do believe. And it’s important to all the time strategy these sorts of conditions from a place of energy. Putin stated he was going to hold out this motion in two weeks and it could be over. And we’re seven months into it. And the Ukrainians are combating for his or her lives. They’re combating for his or her nation. However the Ukrainians have the backing of the world, and Russia is doing this alone.
KELLY: President Biden warned the opposite day about the specter of a nuclear Armageddon. He stated – that was his phrases. He says that is the best threat it has been in 60 years. In a CNN interview this week, pressed on whether or not he believes that Putin will truly use nuclear weapons, he stated, I do not suppose he’ll. Has one thing modified between these two feedback to mood concern in any manner?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I do not suppose something has modified. We have heard all of Putin’s rhetoric because the starting, and we don’t suppose these are the sorts of phrases of a rustic that’s assured of their place. We take Putin’s threats, nonetheless, very critically, and we’re not going to permit him to intimidate us by his rhetoric. He is aware of what would occur if he makes use of this type of weapon, and we have communicated that instantly, in addition to privately, with the Russians about what the results is likely to be.
KELLY: I’m wondering, although, you recognize, with him even hinting on the prospect of any risk of the specter of nuclear escalation, does that change the best way you consider attempting to strike a stability between pressuring Russia, isolating Russia versus frightening Russia?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I believe the president has been very clear that we’re not going to do something from our aspect to escalate this battle. And the provocations are all coming from the Russian aspect. They invaded Ukraine. They’re attacking Ukrainian civilians and Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. They’re attacking a nuclear plant. In order that they’re escalating, and they’re the aggressor. However our intention is to proceed to assist the Ukrainian folks’s proper to defend themselves.
KELLY: Ambassador, you gave us, gave NPR, an interview final month during which you talked about proof that Russia is detaining Ukrainians, forcibly relocating them to Russia, the place it’s holding them, you stated, in so-called filtration camps. Russia disputes this. Are you able to give any replace on what’s being performed to analyze?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I imply, we’re nonetheless seeing proof of Russia utilizing these filtration camps and taking Ukrainians into Russia. We have seen numbers as excessive as 1000’s a day of people who find themselves being forcibly faraway from Ukraine and brought into far distant locations in Russia. And it completely needs to be condemned. We’re doing every part doable to gather proof of what they’re doing in order that they are often held accountable but additionally that these folks could be reunited with their households, and notably kids who’ve been filtrated and forcibly adopted.
KELLY: And to be clear in regards to the scale, it sounds such as you’re not seeing this slowed down in any manner. That is 1000’s of individuals day by day.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah. We have not seen any proof that it is slowed down.
KELLY: Final thing – this week noticed Russian missile strikes in opposition to a dozen or so Ukrainian cities, together with ones that had not been hit in months, together with within the coronary heart of the capital, Kyiv. You are a diplomat, so maybe I do know the reply to this, nevertheless it sounds such as you – do you continue to consider there’s a diplomatic decision, there is a diplomatic manner this battle ends?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Now we have by no means given up on diplomacy to discover a resolution to this battle. The Russians selected to push apart diplomacy and selected to assault Ukraine. However we have additionally been clear that we aren’t going to interact with Putin on diplomacy on the Ukrainian battle with out the Ukrainians. And so Ukraine needs to be a part of any discussions a few diplomatic manner ahead with the Russians.
KELLY: Linda Thomas-Greenfield on the road there from New York. She is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador, thanks.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thanks a lot. It is nice to be right here with you.
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