The United States convened a meeting on Monday of the UN Security Council to discuss the potential invasion of Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Vasily Nebenzya, Representative to the UN from the Russian Federation exchanged views. The Chinese and the Russians tried to make the discussion private, but this move was opposed by the rest of the members.
With the support of only China, the Russians forced a vote at the beginning of the U.S.-called meeting on whether to hold the session behind closed doors. “What we urgently need now is quiet diplomacy, but not microphone diplomacy,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun said.
But, microphone diplomacy was what we got.
The exchange between Thomas-Greenfield and Nebenzya was described by the New York Times as a “bitter diplomatic brawl.” Nebenzia portrayed the Americans as the provocateurs. “You are almost pulling for this,” he said, looking at Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield. “You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want to make your words become a reality.”
“Changing the situation, improving it can only be done through Kyiv implementing the already mentioned Minsk agreement that stipulates primarily direct dialogue with Donetsk and Luhansk. There is no other option. If our Western partners push Kyiv to sabotage the Minsk agreement, something that Ukrainian authorities are willing to use, then that might end in the absolute worst way for Ukraine,” he said.
As far as I can tell, only the Washington Post is reporting what I consider to be the most important of the statements Nebenzya made.
Nebenzya accused the West of bringing “pure Nazis” to power on Russia’s borders, and “making heroes out of those peoples who fought on the side of Hitler.” The U.S. aim, he said, is “to weaken Russia and create an arc of instability around it.”
The Nazi references were not just hyperbole. They are part of a line of argument the Russian government has been pursuing since Ukrainian independence. According to Russia, every person who supports Ukrainian independence is a Nazi. This is the line they have been using to try to mobilize their population behind an invasion of Ukraine.
According to a book by Ukrainian specialist Taras Kuzio, for decades, Russia has been pushing a sentimental and warped narrative about the “Great Patriotic War” (WWII) and trying to convince the population that any moves toward independence from the Russian sphere of influence, or toward the West, is a betrayal and a sign of fascism.
Putin is trying to convince the Russian people that what they will be fighting in Ukraine is Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, and fascists. Ukraine is part of Russia and the people in the current Ukrainian government are traitors that must be defeated just as they were defeated in WWII.
Now, this is patent nonsense, crazy talk, but the important thing is that today, the crazy talk went from being something pumped out for internal consumption to declarations in front of the United Nations. It’s saying the crazy part out loud.
I can’t help but think this is important.