Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 7, 2022
QUESTION: Now that we’ve seen the IAEA’s report on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, how does the U.S. and its allies hold Russia accountable for security?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, we have consistently called out Russia for the actions that they have taken at this plant. And I have to say we’re very relieved that the IAEA team was able to visit the nuclear plant. I think the visit allowed them to carry out the important work, as you just reported, and in spite of the fact that it’s increasingly dangerous there.
And we welcome the report that they provided, but we call on Russia, as we did yesterday in the Council, to remove their military presence from this plant. They are responsible for creating the dire conditions that we’re all watching and hoping do not develop as the stress on the operators and the continued military operation is really a threat to the security of personnel there at the plant, as well as people living around the camp and further afield.
QUESTION: So Russia denies shelling around the Zaporizhzhya plant. It rejects the findings of the IAEA’s report. I mean, what leverage does the UN have to convince Russia to establish a safe zone? You need them to make that happen, no?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We absolutely need them to make the right decision to demilitarize the areas around the camp and leave the facility so that the operators there can do their work without fear and without exhaustion and without the possible mistakes because of the fear and exhaustion.
QUESTION: So what leverage do you have?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I mean, we really are putting pressure on the Russians. We’re putting pressure on them every single day. They’re beginning to feel that pressure. As you know, we have put extensive sanctions on the Russians and on their economy. And their economy is beginning to show the strains of that, and their troops on the ground are beginning to show the pressure, the strained pressure of this war. But we have to just keep – as we have done – making sure that Russia is called out for what they are doing and that the evidence is collected so that we can hold them accountable
QUESTION: Ukrainians – let me ask – Ukrainians are being detained, forcefully relocated to Russia if Russia is occupying the land where they are. They are being taken to these so-called “filtration camps.” This is what the UN is calling them. There’s a UN Security Council meeting about it later today. Can you tell us what more you know about these camps?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well look, we called this meeting of the Security Council today with the Albanians who are also a member of the Council. And this whole concept of filtration is very, very chilling. And we have evidence that the Russians have moved hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens, including children.
They’re being interrogated, they’re being detained, they’re being forcibly deported. Some are being sent to the furthest-most parts of eastern Russia near the North Korean border, and they’re being sent because this is an effort by the Russians to suppress resistance. And we have to call them out on this. We’re demanding that they allow the UN and other humanitarian and human rights organizations to have access to these centers so that they can verify the well-being of the individuals who are being held there.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. is dedicated to holding perpetrators of war crimes and other atrocities accountable. Is what you’re describing a war crime? And how do you hold Russia accountable for it?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I have been very, very clear from the beginning of this that we will continue to collect evidence that will hold the Russians accountable in international courts of justice. And that will be part of the actions that we will be calling for over the course of the coming days and months.
QUESTION: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you for your time and perspective this morning.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.