Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Michel Martin of NPR

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Bucharest, Romania
April 4, 2022


QUESTION: Ambassador, thank you so much for visiting with us.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much for having me.

QUESTION: Just a few minutes ago, you announced you’ll be seeking Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council. You said that Russia’s presence on the Human Rights Council is a farce. You said you’ll be taking this to the Security Council as soon as you get back. When do you expect the vote?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I’m going to be back in New York tonight, in fact, and we have a meeting of the Security Council tomorrow. But this has to be handled in the General Assembly, and our expectation is to do it as soon as possible – this week, and possibly as early as Thursday.

QUESTION: What force will this have? I mean, is this a mainly symbolic gesture to express the world’s disgust of Russia’s actions? Does it have any force beyond that?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s more than symbolic, and it does have force because it continues what we have started, and that is to isolate Russia and to call them out for what they’re doing. They have a narrative that what they’re doing is normal. This is not normal. They will hear from the entire world that we will not continue to allow their misinformation, their propaganda to be used in – on a UN platform.

QUESTION: There are other members of the Human Rights Council that have records of – human rights records that other parts of the world deem questionable. I’m thinking specifically of China, Venezuela, some might argue Eritrea, Sudan. You can anticipate Russia will argue that Russia is being held to a higher standard and that they will argue that this is all made up. I mean, how does the U.S. intend to respond?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Russia should be held to a higher standard. They are a permanent member of the Security Council. They have a responsibility to behave and comport themselves like a country that cares about the UN Charter, that cares about UN values. And it’s clear that they do not.

QUESTION: I mean, how do you respond to that when Russia has been saying that this is all fake, that these are crisis actors, that it’s just all made up? I mean, how do you penetrate that?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You keep exposing them. And we know that this is Russia’s propaganda. We know it’s misinformation. But we know the truth and we have to make sure that everyone else knows the truth as well.

QUESTION: Is there anything else the U.S. can do unilaterally or with – in partnership with allies apart from the steps that you’re taking at the United Nations?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are continuing to look at every option we have on the table to call Russia out, to isolate Russia, to unify the world against Russia. And in fact, I think we’ve been extraordinarily successful in unifying the world. I don’t think he expected that NATO would unify in the face of his extraordinary atrocities. But he’s seen that he has – he actually has succeeded in unifying us, something I don’t think he wanted to do.

QUESTION: I just want to point out that we are conducting this conversation at the train station, where some refugee services have been set up, because many people are coming across. So, what you’re hearing now is literally train announcements.

Let’s go to the main purpose of your visit, which is to thank these two countries who have become both destinations and transit centers for refugees. You announced in the course of your visit here, earlier in Moldova, a large, $50 million aid package for Moldova. What is that for? Why is it necessary?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, it’s necessary to support the government and the people of Moldova. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. It’s a small country. Having thousands of refugees pour into their border has had a tremendous impact, and it’s been challenging for them both in terms of their economy and their budget. And that $50 million is intended to provide them with support – for example, support at the border in receiving refugees.

QUESTION: What is – are they seeing a different group of people coming across now? I know in both countries what had been a flood has become something of a trickle. There’s still like a couple hundred people coming across every day. Are you seeing different kinds of people from earlier? What are you seeing?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah, I’m hearing it’s still in the thousand-a-day in both countries. What I’m hearing is that the initial move where people who were moving before the situation got worse, they were in their cars, they were with their families – they were not as traumatized. What we’re seeing now are people who are truly traumatized. I talked to a young woman yesterday and she said her apartment was destroyed in front of her eyes. And I’m told that as I met with some of the medical personnel today, that they’re seeing people who require a lot of psychological support.

QUESTION: What’s it been like for you if you don’t mind my asking?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It’s been emotional. It’s been painful. It’s been painful to see how horrific one man’s actions can have on these refugees. And we have seen the pictures of the buildings that have been completely destroyed, but what you and I have seen here in Romania and in Moldova are people – we’re seeing people whose lives have been destroyed.

QUESTION: Madam Ambassador, thank you for speaking with us. I’m sorry about the circumstances but thank you for spending this time with us today.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And thank you so much for all of your reporting.