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US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at the General Assembly 58th plenary meeting in New York on February 23, 2022, on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. | Source: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / Getty

The United States ambassador to the United Nations (UN) urged the intergovernmental organization to take immediate action as Russia invaded Ukraine in what the president called an “unprovoked” attack.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that the UN’s peace-keeping arm needed to draft an emergency resolution amid dwindling diplomatic options in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to convince Russia to stop its attack that had already begun Wednesday night. The UN Security Council was expected to hold an emergency meeting Thursday after Thomas-Greenfield referred to the military conflict as a “message of war” sent by Russia to the entire world.

After reminding the UN Security Council during remarks Wednesday night that the U.S. had basically predicted what Russia was going to do to Ukraine, Thomas-Greenfield later acknowledged the attack was already underway while she was speaking.

“At the exact time as we are gathered in the Council seeking peace, Putin delivered a message of war in total disdain for the responsibility of this Council,” Thomas-Greenfield, the second Black woman to serve as UN ambassador, said late Wednesday night. “This is a grave emergency. The Council will need to act, and we will put a resolution on the table tomorrow.”

Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Russia has been accused of manufacturing military tension with Ukraine in order to create a false narrative to support initiating war against the neighboring country. International relations experts suspect the real reason is to prevent Ukraine from joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a move that would align Ukraine with Western nations — like the U.S. — that Russian President Vladimir Putin perceives as a threat to his tyrannical ambitions.

It was under that context that Thomas-Greenfield, earlier Wednesday night before the Russian invasion of Ukraine was reported to have begun, suggested UN member China was being sympathetic to Putin. China previously tried to extend the blame beyond Russia to other nations, including Ukraine.

“So let us be clear: ‘All parties’ are not culpable here. There is no middle ground,” Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council. “Calling for both sides to de-escalate only gives Russia a pass. Russia is the aggressor here.”

What can the UN Security Council do?

If the UN Security Council doesn’t take immediate action, Thomas-Greenfield suggested that would set a precedent and could embolden other nations to take similar military conflict that doesn’t meet the international standard for war.

“The Security Council is charged with adjudicating threats to peace and security,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “Russia is bypassing it entirely and taking matters into its own hands. And that undermines the institution. It undermines everyone who participates in it.”

NPR reported that a resolution from the UN Security Council “would declare that Russia is violating the U.N. Charter, international law and a 2015 council resolution on Ukraine” and “urge Russia to come back into compliance immediately.”

It was unclear what else a UN Security Council resolution could do amid the ongoing conflict.

Russia previously successfully annexed — took by force — the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

Black history

Thomas-Greenfield, along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is among two high-ranking Black members of President Joe Biden’s administration involved in trying to resolve the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where a growing number of Russian military troops had been gathering along the border in recent weeks.

Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. was right about Russia’s intentions for war with Ukraine all along.

‘We predicted Russia’s false flag attacks, the misinformation, the theatrical emergency meetings, and the cyber attacks,” she said.

What’s next?

Meanwhile, Biden was set to announce yet another round of economic sanctions against Russia, neither of which appear to have deterred its resolve for war nor its disdain for the West, and the U.S., in particular.

“Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and our Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,” Biden said Wednesday night. “The world will hold Russia accountable.”

Who is Linda Thomas-Greenfield?

Thomas-Greenfield is a career diplomat who has held comparably lofty posts in the U.S. government, including serving as ambassador to Liberia, as director-general of the Foreign Service and assistant secretary for African affairs. Much of her time in leadership positions in the State Department was during President Barack Obama‘s administration.

Thomas-Greenfield was all but forced to retire in 2017 after then-President Donald Trump’s first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began scaling back career diplomats at an alarming rate, firing most of the department’s senior African American diplomats in the process.

Thomas-Greenfield is the fifth Black person and the second Black woman to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. Susan Rice previously served as the ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 before she became the national security adviser from 2013-2017.


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