Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 10, 2022
QUESTION: We’re on the line from New York with Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Welcome to the program.
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you.
QUESTION: Three people, including a child, were killed when that maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol was attacked. As we were just hearing from Kherson, people living there under Russian occupation are deprived of food and medicine; is Russia guilty of war crimes, do you think?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, this is the question that we’re being asked every day, and we’re working with others in the international community to document the crimes that Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people. They constitute war crimes; there are attacks on civilians that cannot be justified by any – in any way whatsoever. I still see images of a women being rolled out of a hospital, pregnant, bleeding, people screaming, children crying. It is just unconscionable. And we call on Russia to change course. They have to end this conflict, and they have to stop the fighting, and they have to return to diplomacy. And we have made clear our strong support for Ukrainians’ call for this to stop.
QUESTION: As evidence is gathered and, indeed, as more civilians die, I’m just wondering, how will this be prosecuted do you think?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I can’t predict how this will be prosecuted. I just know that what is important is that we collect the evidence and have the evidence ready and available to be used.
QUESTION: But accountability relies on a process, doesn’t it –
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It does.
QUESTION: – and neither Russia nor the United States ratified the statute that governs the International Criminal Court. Does that mean that that avenue is not there?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: No, it doesn’t mean the avenue is not there. The avenue is always available. And while we didn’t – we’re not a member of the Criminal Court, we’ve always been supportive of the Criminal Court taking actions when actions are required.
QUESTION: The U.S. has said that Russia is considering the use of chemical/biological weapons. I’m just wondering, what evidence is there for that? Can you share that with us?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I can’t share any evidence with you of that, but I think as we have watched what Russia’s actions over the course of the past two weeks since they’ve started this aggression against Ukraine, nothing is off the table for them. The fact that they were willing to attack a nuclear facility with the possibility of, not only putting radiation into the air that would have impacted Ukrainians but would have impacted their own troops fighting on the ground, shows that nothing is off the table for the Russians. We just have to make sure we’re prepared to respond and call them out on this, and we’re willing to do that at every possible level.
QUESTION: And that talk of chemical weapons, also the images we’ve seen such as the hospital completely bombed out, the sight of bodies lying on the street. Is Ukraine turning into Syria, do you think?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think we’ve seen evidence that the Russians have used some of the same methods that they used in Syria and Aleppo, and so we’re watching all of this very, very closely, and know that the war is not over yet, and this could continue to get worse. But certainly, there is clear evidence that they’re using some of the same modes of attack that they used in Syria.
QUESTION: Yes, I mean, the West failed to stop the carnage there, didn’t it? How far is the U.S. prepared to go to stop a repeat of what happened in Syria?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we have been, as you know, the European Union and NATO is more unified than it has ever been before. And in our unity, we are pressing hard to prepare for any actions that the Russians might take. We’re supporting the Ukrainians both militarily, but also economically, and with humanitarian assistance to support people who have been affected by this. And we are prepared to continue to provide military support, as you know as you reported previously, to the Ukrainians.
QUESTION: But not a no-fly zone?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The President has been clear about a no-fly zone. We don’t want this to be a war between Russia and the United States. And so, he has made clear that we’re not prepared to put American troops on the ground or to put American pilots in planes over Russia*. It would escalate this war beyond Ukraine if we were to do that.
QUESTION: Ambassador, thank you for joining us today.