Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 15, 2022
QUESTION: Dear Ambassador, thank you for joining us. It’s such a great honor for us.
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, thank you. I’m delighted to be here with you.
QUESTION: In recent time we are facing a crisis in Ukraine. How do you see the current situation from your position?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, as you know, we have been diligently working over the course of the past few weeks to keep this on the diplomatic agenda. As you know, we had a meeting of the Security Council on the 31st of January where we were able to bring this before the entire Council and have Russia hear from every single member of the Council that they ought to pursue a diplomatic approach to resolving their security concerns in the region, and we were able as well to have the Security Council hear back from Russia. We still want to see a diplomatic solution. We’re encouraging Russia to accept that possibility and refrain from continuing to escalate and to push for a confrontation. We think that a diplomatic approach will provide an opportunity for both sides to address security concerns.
QUESTION: For us in Slovakia, you know, Ukraine is a neighbor state. In the other hand, Slovakia is also at the eastern border of NATO. So do you see our location as strategic in point of view of geopolitical?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Slovakia is absolutely strategic. Your support for your neighbor is important for Ukraine’s security. And your relationship with us, as you know, is extraordinarily strong. It’s a relationship that we both find mutually satisfying. We’ve appreciated that Slovakia has taken a strong stand on democracy and on rule of law, and what we see happening on the Ukraine border is not just an attack on Ukraine, but it’s an attack on democracy. It’s an attack on the rule of law. And you stand strong in that sphere.
QUESTION: American media – exactly POLITICO – said that Russia could attack Ukraine exactly on Wednesday. In your opinion, was it a leak of information, or did someone intentionally spread this info to the world?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: As you know, we have, over the course of the past week, provided some declassified intelligence to all of our partners to let them know what we are seeing as it relates to the situation on the Ukrainian border. So this was not a leak. It was purposeful. And it is an effort to show the world the aggression that – and the escalatory efforts that the Russians are making at the current moment, and to ensure that we stay united and that we are prepared should Russia make the decision.
We can’t determine when they’re going to make that decision. We’re not in President Putin’s mind. But we see their actions. They have 100,000 troops on the border. Those troops are moving closer to the border. They are participating in an exercise in Belarus that is quite threatening to Ukraine. So the world can see what Russia is doing, and we have to stay united in confronting their aggression.
QUESTION: The UN Charter mandates its Member States to maintain international peace and security and to uphold international law. All the Member States accepted this obligation by the UN, but in the end of day, how could the UN step in the case of a Russian invasion?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly, first, at the Security Council, where we are responsible for dealing with issues of peace and security around the globe – and we were able to raise the profile of what Russia is doing in the Council last month – but all Member States should be concerned about the situation on the border and the threat that Russia poses to peace and security and their threat to the charter, as you just shared with us. This is important, that all Member States let Russia know that this is an issue for them.
QUESTION: In the UN Security Council, is the UN Security Council reconsidering any resolutions? Because you know the fact is that Russia is one of the permanent Member States, and Russia can use its veto power.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, certainly we are watching the situation closely. I can’t preview what the Council might decide to do over the course of the next few days. We’re watching the situation very closely. Should there be any further invasion of Ukraine by the Russians, you can certainly be assured that we will bring it before the Security Council in an emergency meeting. And while Russia may have veto power, they can’t veto their isolation, they can’t veto their reputation, and they can’t veto the response that they will get from the international community and from a united Europe, which will be swift and forceful and it will be felt across Russia.
QUESTION: It’s always the West and Russia. Do you see maybe some similarities between the current situation and the situation during the Cuban Missile Crisis or maybe the Cold War? Because also at the end of the day, ordinary people are in danger and can suffer and pay for it.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Patricia, this is not about the West and Russia. This is about Russia’s attack on the sovereignty and integrity of the border of a neighboring country. It’s about a Russian attack on democracy and the rule of law. It is not a confrontation, as the press has occasionally promoted, between Russia and the United States. What Russia is doing is an affront to the UN Charter. They have 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. They have taken aggressive actions against their neighbor Ukraine. Ukraine has had independence for more than 30 years. It is an independence that they guard very jealously, and it is one that we should support them in maintaining.
QUESTION: How could you describe the relations between the United States and Russia? Are they good? Because some people might say that these relations are not good since the Cold War.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Our relationship is complicated. Where we can cooperate with the Russians, we try to cooperate. And where confrontation occurs, we’re prepared to respond to their confrontations. I will tell you that in the Security Council, we have found opportunities where we have been able to work together on common issues, but we know where we draw the line on issues where we disagree with the Russians, and we’re not in any way afraid to be confrontational in areas where we have intense disagreements.
QUESTION: Some recent events are indicated the possibility of released tensions. Do you personally believe that the situation is going to be better or maybe do you personally think that it’s still chance for a diplomatic resolution of this whole conflict?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are absolutely committed to a diplomatic solution to this situation. As you know, President Biden has spoken to President Putin three times, and we have also engaged at other diplomatic levels as well. So we’re absolutely committed to a diplomatic solution, but it is up to the Russians to accept that. And we look forward to continuing to lean in aggressively to find a diplomatic way forward.
QUESTION: Dear Ambassador, I appreciate the time and thank you for the interview.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much. It was great being on your show.