Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 24, 2022
QUESTION: Welcome to the program, Ambassador. Now, the Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that he wants to continue with the route of diplomacy regarding Russia-Ukraine tensions, but my question is: Is there still room for diplomacy given how fast everything is moving this week?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, things are moving fast. Diplomacy is still on the table. Secretary Blinken’s trip to Europe last week, I think, indicated how forward-leaning we are on the diplomatic front. He met with Lavrov, as you’re showing there now, and we’re continuing to have discussions with the Russians, but also with our European colleagues to ensure that our voices are unified in response to this Russian aggression.
QUESTION: And on that, the question of unity is one that really interests me, because are you really unified? Because we see some – I don’t want to call it push-back, maybe, from Germany, for example – the fact that they are not sending weapons to Ukraine. Could that create a crack in that unity?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s not a crack in the unity at all. Our voices are still very, very strong in terms of our response to the Russian aggression. And Germany has been clear that they want to see a diplomatic solution if we can find a diplomatic solution as we have been pursuing over the course of these past few weeks. So, we’ve not given up on diplomacy, but we are preparing in the event that the Russians do make the aggressive move and choose confrontation over de-escalation.
QUESTION: Clear up for us, if you could, exactly what confrontation could look like. Because it was rather confusing last week as to exactly what the U.S.’s red line was or a split response – was it an incursion, an invasion?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, the Russian playbook is very well known to us. Their efforts may start with a cyberattack, which we’ve already seen. They may start moving “little green men,” as they’re referred to, across the border. We’re prepared for all of that. And we know that that is the kind of behavior that they have exhibited in the past. So, we have not lessened our plans to respond aggressively to whatever action they should take.
QUESTION: And what role do you think NATO member Turkey could play?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, as a member of NATO, I think Turkey is engaging with NATO colleagues and engaging with the United States on how NATO will respond as an organization. And as a member of that organization, we will be working with the Turkish government, as we have worked with other members of NATO.
QUESTION: And a question for you: I do wonder, would things be different? Would we have these Ukraine-Russia tensions if President Trump was still the U.S. president, given that stronger personal relationship that he had with President Putin?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I can’t comment on how President Trump might respond to this, but as a country we have always been clear that we will support our NATO Allies and that we will be supportive of our other allies, such as Ukraine. And I would assume that the diplomacy that we’re pursuing now would have been pursued during that period as well.
QUESTION: Last question for you Ambassador – just your gut feeling – with regards to diplomacy, what would happen this week? Where does this all go from here?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, look, we’re going to ramp up diplomacy, particularly here in the New York. I’m engaging with the members of the Security Council. I’m engaging with the Ukrainians, with other Europeans, to see how we can react, and react quickly, here in New York to that situation. And those efforts are going to intensify, I would say, over the course of this coming week.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.