Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Taras Berezovets and Peter Zalmayev on TV Pryamyi’s “The Week”, Ukraine

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 12, 2022


QUESTION 1: Ambassador, thank you so much for your time. The question I’m going to ask you is basically about the damage to Ukraine by Russia’s ongoing aggression has been to the ten million of dollars not to mention the loss of Ukrainian lives. The U.S. has announced an aid package to Ukraine of over $30 million. While help from this will not be sufficient to rebuild the country once the war is over, to your knowledge, Ambassador, are plans being made by the U.S. or its allies for a sort of “Marshal Plan” of reconstruction for Ukraine?

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you so much for that question, but I have to say right now what we are focused on is ending the conflict, stopping the carnage that the Russians are involved in in Ukraine with their aggression, and providing assistance to the Ukrainian people – humanitarian assistance to help them get through these terrible times. Once that is over, we can start the process of talking about rebuilding. But we can’t rebuild as long as hostilities are taking place on the ground and the kinds of attacks against civilians that we’re seeing every day continue to take place.

QUESTION 2: Mrs. Ambassador, it’s been just today we learned of a lack of breakthrough in the negotiations in Turkey between Lavrov and Kuleba. It must be very frustrating for diplomats such as yourself to be listening to your colleague, your Russian counterpart, who has refused to even acknowledge the fact that Russia has invaded Ukraine. He’s living in a – the Russians seem to be living in an alternate reality. So, what are the chances of a diplomatic breakthrough in the near future before all of Ukraine is laid essentially in rubble? What is your feeling?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, I spent 35 years in the diplomatic service, so I always want to think that we can find a diplomatic solution, and I appreciated the fact that the Ukrainian Foreign Minister was willing to go to Turkey to meet with the Foreign Minister from Russia. We heard that, as you noted, that nothing came of those discussions. I will say we can’t give up on diplomacy, but you know, you said that Russians are living in an alternative reality. That reality is that they are absolutely and completely and totally isolated. We got 141 countries to vote for a resolution condemning Russia in the United Nations. It was unheard of to get that many people.

And if I can just speak directly to the Ukrainian people, we stand with the Ukrainian people against Russia’s aggression, and they have seen the world stand with them against Russia’s aggression. And we are encouraged and really buoyed by the courage and the strength that the people of Ukraine have shown in the face of this attack. Your president has been extraordinarily courageous. I meet or speak to on a daily basis with the Ukrainian Permanent Representative here in New York, and he has stood firm and strong in the Security Council and in the General Assembly defending Ukraine’s rights against this horrible aggression that the Russians are – that is taking place in Ukraine by the Russians.

So again, the Russians may be in an alternative reality, but that reality is constantly being bombarded with their isolation from the rest of the world.

QUESTION 1: What do you feel, Ambassador, then today Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russia never attacked Ukraine. Meanwhile Russia bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol, in fact killing several women and kids.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, my heart still breaks every single time I see that video of the hospital. Even talking about it right now is difficult. The Russians can’t deny that they are attacking Ukraine. We’re seeing it live on TV every single day. I know that you are reporting it, it’s being reported across the world, Russians themselves are beginning to see the results of what their government is doing in Ukraine, and I think they didn’t expect that they would have demonstrations on the streets of Russia against Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine. So, Russian diplomats can say what they want to say, but we all know what the truth is, because we’re seeing it every single day.

QUESTION 2: Madam Ambassador, you in a recent interview referred to what Joe Biden, the American President, said about how it’s too early right now to determine if Russia has indeed committed war crimes, and you know there’s a lot of enthusiasm right now in Ukraine to move forward within the International Criminal Court in the Hague to see if Russia could be held responsible. What’s the status – your assessment of whether the Russian Federation has indeed committed war crimes in Ukraine?

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The Russian attacks on civilians are war crimes. And we’re working with others in the international community to collect evidence so that when the situation allows, we will have the evidence of those crimes. You are collecting that evidence every day when you show on the news what is happening on the ground in Ukraine. So, the evidence is clearly there, and we need to all work together to document and collect that for use in the future.

QUESTION 1: Thank you so much, Ambassador, for your time and your expertise, and we will be looking forward to hearing from you next time.

QUESTION 2: And thank you for your support, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you, and stay strong, stay courageous, and continue to report. Everyone needs to hear what is happening on the ground every single day, and you play a key role in that, so thank you very much again.