Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 25, 2022
QUESTION: I’d like to ask you about the issue of Ukraine. This morning the resolution of the UN General Assembly was just adopted. What does this mean?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, that’s a great question. What it means is that the United Nations, the General Assembly, spoke with a strong voice to the people of Ukraine – and to Russia – that there is support for Ukraine at the United Nations. So, this was a humanitarian resolution that provides humanitarian support, but also calls out Russia as the perpetrator of this humanitarian crisis because of the war that they are responsible for. And what is so important about this resolution is that it was strong and that it showed the unity of UN Member States, and it basically isolated the Russians.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. Today’s vote was 140 in favor, five against, and 38 abstained. What do you think about these results?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I was very pleased with these results. One-hundred-forty is a significant vote. And it said that across regions, there was support for Ukraine. It was – it took a great deal of effort. As you know, there were two resolutions on the table: one that called out Russia supported by Ukraine and the other that did not identify Russia as the country responsible for this crisis. And while we would have preferred to have one resolution on the table, the fact that the resolution that we all supported – 89 countries co-sponsored that resolution – I think was an extraordinary success, it was an extraordinary statement, and I know that Ukrainians looking at this from Ukraine got a strong sense of the support that they have here at the United Nations.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. What is next at the UN to stop the war?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we are supporting all of the efforts to find a negotiated settlement to this war that will lead to a ceasefire and to the Russians withdrawing their forces out of Ukraine. And those efforts are being led by a number of countries. But Ukraine itself is sitting at the negotiating table with the Russians while they are being attacked. I actually commend their courage that they’re willing to do this. And their hope is that they can get an agreement with the Russians that will lead to a ceasefire and stop the carnage that the Russians are causing. But there are a number of other countries involved in discussions with the Russians. The French government has been actively engaged, and others have been engaged to try to encourage President Putin to stop this unjustified war.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. What role do you expect from Japan in the situation to stop the war?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, Japan has been a very, very strong partner with us in the General Assembly. They supported the resolution. We’ve engaged very closely with them on discussing the humanitarian situation and how Japan can be helpful in providing support to Ukraine. So, Japan has been a very, very strong partner, and I thank Japan and the people of Japan for the support they’ve provided to the Ukrainian people.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. You know, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has had his address to the Japanese parliament yesterday, and he said the United Nations and the United Nations Security Council are ineffective. Reforms are needed. What do you think about Russia overrunning the UN system?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I don’t think Russia is overrunning the United Nations system, but they are abusing that system, and I used those words in the Security Council yesterday. What they are doing in terms of calling for unlimited meetings on things that don’t exist, telling – making up stories, fabrications about chemical weapons. These are all abuse of their responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council. And we have consistently called them out, and we have consistently isolated them for those actions.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. And next question for you about DPRK. North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile yesterday, and U.S. and some other Member States called for an open meeting of the Security Council tomorrow. What do you think it will mean to hold an open meeting?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we’ve made several attempts – this is almost 12 tests that the DPRK has carried out over the course of this year. And we have made several attempts to have open meetings and produce a Security Council product that calls out the DPRK for violation of Security Council resolutions. So, we think it is important that this meeting be open so that the DPRK government understands and hears clearly from the Security Council that their actions are unacceptable, they are destabilizing to the region, and that we will hold them accountable. And it is important that we do it in public and not behind closed doors. So that’s why we called for an open meeting tomorrow.
I met with both the Japanese permanent representative and the Republic of Korea permanent representative this morning to discuss our plans for this meeting and to agree on what we want to see come out of this meeting, and we do want to have a public product that will call out the DPRK. And that’s the plan for, for tomorrow, and we’re looking at what other actions we might take.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. Last question: What do you think about the prospect of diplomacy with North Korea?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I’m so happy you asked me that question, because we have been clear – President Biden has been clear from day one – that the diplomatic door is open, and we’re ready to step through that door. We’re asking the North Koreans to step through that door. We are willing to sit down with them, to discuss with them, the issues they have so that we can stop what they’re doing that causes a tremendous amount of anguish across the region. Because they are acting in a destabilizing fashion, and it has caused other countries in the region concern. So, we do want to have diplomatic off-ramp that will allow North Korea to find other ways to express their discontent.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.