Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Kay Burley of Sky News

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Reykjavík, Iceland
May 17, 2023

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Kay Burley of Sky News

QUESTION: Hello to you. Thank you for joining us on the program this morning, Madam Ambassador. European leaders summit – explain to us why there is American representation there.

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are part of a unified effort with our European allies to show our strong support for Ukraine, but also to condemn Russia in as loud and as strong a voice as we can, and the U.S. is very much a part of that and we support the efforts of our European colleagues and want to make sure that Ukraine knows it has our support.

QUESTION: And Madam Ambassador, you are very keen along with the other European leaders that are surrounding you there that Russia has accountability and continues to have accountability for the war in Ukraine by creating a new register of damage caused. Can you tell us more about that?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we have seen the destruction that Russia has wrought on the Ukrainian people. We see the missiles every day bombing buildings and bombing their infrastructure. And they have to be held accountable for that, and the registry is one step toward laying that foundation of accountability so that in the future we have the mechanism, we have the legal basis for holding Russia accountable.

QUESTION: Because… 

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Particularly as this relates to damages.

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, of course Russia will, I’m guessing, just basically not recognize it.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, of course they’re not going to recognize it. They don’t recognize that they are committing acts of – they’re committing war crimes – they’re committing human rights violations. What they are doing is unconscionable, and we have to start the process of holding them accountable and have them, in particular with this registry, be called to the mat to pay for the damages that they have caused.

QUESTION: The UN, I think, recommended this register some six months ago, something like last November. Why has it taken so long to find partners to support it, do you think?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, all of this is a process, and we have worked with our colleagues both at the UN and here in Europe to find a basis that is supported by the majority. And we’re here, and we are speaking with one voice, and we know that Ukraine appreciates that, and we know that Russia hears us. 

QUESTION: I’m sure you’ll be having lots of bilateral meetings while you are there in Iceland – beautiful part of the world. How are you, the United States and the UN, trying to make sure that war fatigue does not impact on the continuing support for Ukraine? 

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We know that Ukraine is fighting a war for all of us, that this is about saving the world, as we say in the UN Charter, from the scourge of war. And so we have to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes, and President Biden has been very clear that we will stand with Ukraine as long as it takes. And I heard that message delivered by all of the leaders from Europe yesterday. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine cannot succeed and Russia cannot be allowed to benefit from what has been an unprovoked war, an unprovoked aggression against the Ukrainian people. 

QUESTION: How concerned are you, Madam Ambassador, as we’re heading into election territory here in the United Kingdom, also in your country, and if there’s a change of leadership that support will continue on for Ukraine? 

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, our support for Ukraine has been bipartisan from the beginning. The President has worked with his colleagues in Congress to ensure that we get the support, both financial and moral support, for the Ukrainian people. And that support will continue despite the election. The doubts that are expressed are not doubts that are being expressed by those in leadership positions.

QUESTION: What would you consider to be a successful conclusion of the talks that you’re taking place in at the moment?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We’ve seen the success of these talks. We have a registry that we’re all signing on to, and we’ve had a meeting in which we are unified in our condemnation of Russia and we’re unified in our support for Ukraine. That was our goal and we have achieved that even as we continue those talks today. 

QUESTION: And how are you enjoying your time in Reykjavik, in Iceland? Beautiful part of the world, isn’t it?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s very peaceful. This is my very first time coming to Iceland, and I have to congratulate and commend the people of Iceland and the Government of Iceland for organizing this extraordinary meeting and being such great hosts.

QUESTION: Yeah. We love Iceland here in the UK, Madam Ambassador, unless they beat us at soccer, at football, because it’s a tiny population compared to us, but they do beat us on occasion. But yeah, you’re right – it is a beautiful part of the world. Good luck with the rest of the conference. Thank you very much indeed for joining us. Thank you.