Around the clock, US diplomats held intense talks with their counterparts from dozens of countries in the hope of persuading them to support a tough UN resolution condemning Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Biden administration officials are quite confident that the resolution will fail at Friday’s emergency meeting of the 15-member UN Security Council. But they say they have a broader strategy.
The draft resolution, circulated on Thursday, calls for an immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. Prompted by the United States, it is expected to be brought before the Security Council in Friday’s session, when Russia, one of the five permanent members of the group, is sure to veto it.
“And in doing so, they are emphasizing their isolation,” said a senior administration official. The resolution condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s aggression, invasion and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
At this point, the US official said, the United States will try to bring the resolution to the full 193-member General Assembly, where there is no veto and only a simple majority is required to pass it.
The decision will follow Tougher economic sanctions The Biden administration imposed on Russia on Thursday, which was reinforced by a series of measures by the European Union.
However, it has been garnering majority support for Resolution A Surprisingly difficult task for American diplomats. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken and Vice President Wendy R. Sherman, as well as other officials, are on the phone with their counterparts from a range of countries, including Portugal, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
track these efforts Months of personal and virtual consultations And the allies’ warnings of Russia’s plans for Ukraine.
India, for example, has been a particularly thorny case, potentially an embarrassment to the administration. In addition to historical relations with Moscow, New Delhi has in recent years established an important defense and diplomatic partnership with Washington.
But India was tepid in its initial response to Russian aggression. During a Security Council session in New York on Wednesday night when President Vladimir Putin launched Russian forces into Ukraine, India’s representative called for de-escalation but did not condemn Moscow.
Asked whether India and the United States were “completely on board” on the crisis, President Biden said Thursday: “We haven’t completely resolved this.”
Blinken spoke with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar later in the day and “stressed the importance of a strong collective response to condemn the Russian invasion and call for an immediate withdrawal and ceasefire,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
Ukraine’s ambassador to India, Igor Polikha, has made a public appeal to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appeal directly to Putin, saying Delhi’s “special relationship” with Russia may have weight, according to India Today TV.
Turkey is another country that, like many others, has mixed feelings about the broader global rivalry between the United States and Russia. Many countries fear Putin’s wrath, rely on Russian energy exports or other trade, and are reluctant to appear on Washington’s side against Moscow. While Turkey is a member of NATO, it has developed a closer relationship with Russia in recent years, particularly with the controversial purchase of S-400 air defense systems and other materiel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately called the Russian invasion “unacceptable”. But US diplomats still would like to see a more formal and vocal condemnation from the Turks.
China has also infuriated US officials. While they expect Beijing to back Russia in their veto, President Xi Jinping’s public support for the invasion has been measured. Although he appreciates the growing relationship with Moscow, he may also be reluctant to fight a bitter fight with the United States and NATO.
At a press conference on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin tried to thread the needle, saying that China strongly urges respect for the “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of all countries. But he also said Russia had “legitimate” security concerns about Ukraine.
“China maintains that everyone should ignore the Cold War mentality and eventually put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through dialogue and negotiations,” he said in Beijing.
US diplomats said the best they could hope for from China in the Security Council vote was to abstain. But even that does not seem likely.
Blinken was not planning to attend Friday’s council meeting, which has led to speculation that diplomats may know they don’t have the votes.
The Biden administration official rejected any suggestion that the difficulty of forming a united front reflects the impotence of consensus-based global organizations such as the United Nations and especially the Security Council, where Russia and China are permanent members, along with the United States and France. and Germany. Russia currently occupies the rotating seat of the President on the Council.
“It is important that we send a message to Ukraine, Russia and the world that the Security Council will not ignore it,” said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations taking place behind the scenes. “The Council was created to respond to precisely this scenario: a stronger country wages war against a weaker neighbor in violation of the UN Charter and the principles of the UN Charter.”
But another senior administration official, also speaking without attribution, acknowledged that mustering a response to Russia had been a lengthy effort.
The State Department “began to sound alarm bells publicly in November,” the official said. We did that especially late last year, when we went to the countries you’d expect. We’ve also had discussions with countries you might not expect. Just to make the point that every responsible country, every country with influence, should have used this influence to signal to Putin that this kind of aggression would be met with a swift and severe response.”
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