The United States and its Western allies clashed with Russia on Wednesday at the UN Security Council over responsibility for a missile that fell in Poland, near the border with Ukraine, an event that the organization’s political affairs officer described as “a terrifying reminder of the absolute necessity of avoiding a further escalation” in the Ukraine war.
“This tragedy would never have happened were it not for Russia’s unnecessary invasion of Ukraine and its recent missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure,” said US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia responded by accusing Ukraine and Poland of trying to “provoke a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.”
The United States and Albania had asked the council last week for an update on the situation in Ukraine, and the meeting was dominated by Tuesday’s missile attack in Poland that killed two farmworkers.
Nebenzia cited two statements by the Ukrainian president and Polish officials that initially indicated Russia was behind the attack. NATO’s secretary general and Poland’s president said on Wednesday there was no indication it was a deliberate attack, and that it was likely a Soviet-era projectile launched by Ukraine while defending against Russian missiles and drones. that attacked their power grid and impacted residential buildings.
UN Undersecretary for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that these were the “most intense attacks” by Russia since it began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and that the impact “can only get worse during the months of coming winter.”
She reiterated that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international law, noting that there are still “heavy battles” in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. She told council members that “there is no end in sight to this war.” She also warned that “as long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spread remain all too real.”
Thomas-Greenfield said the barrage of more than 90 missiles that fell on kyiv and other cities and targets devastating civilian infrastructure had been a “deliberate tactic” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It seems that he has decided that if he cannot take Ukraine by force, he will try to put the country into submission by freezing it,” she said.
Poland’s ambassador to the UN, Krzysztof Szczerski, told the Security Council that “these innocent people would not have died had there not been a Russian war against Ukraine.” And the British ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, stated that “we must be clear that this is a tragedy that stems indisputably from the illegal and unjustified invasion of Russia.”
But Nebenzia responded that he wanted to remind those who blame Russia that Moscow’s “special military operation” would not have been necessary if the Minsk accords following the 2014 Ukraine turmoil, which called for a degree of self-governance for breakaway Donetsk regions. and Luhansk, would have been fulfilled, and would not have led to an eight-year war.
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