Correspondent in New York
The Biden Administration has called on Russia to move from words to deeds in its defense that Moscow is not seeking a military confrontation. This Friday, in an interview with Russian radio, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured that there will be no war “if that depends on the Russian Federation.” At the same time, however, he argued that Russia will ‘respond’ if its main demands – in essence, that NATO does not expand to Ukraine or gain more positions in their regional environment – are not being taken care of by the US and its European allies.
Lavrov’s declaration that Russia does not want war came as the Russian Navy develops live fire maneuvers in the Black Sea and when the Pentagon assures that its military reinforcement on the border with Ukraine continues.
“We welcome the foreign minister’s statements that Russia does not want war,” a senior US government official said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Friday. «But that must be backed up with actions. We need to see Russia withdraw part of the troops deployed on the border with Ukraine and take other de-escalation measures,” added the senior official, who insisted that this intention must be demonstrated with “immediate actions.”
The Biden Administration also defended the call for a special session of the United Nations Security Council -the UN’s most powerful body- to deal with the situation in Ukraine. The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, has requested that the meeting be held this Monday, something that for Washington is part of its “preventive diplomacy” to avoid conflict.
“The UN Security Council has a responsibility to get involved in this matter and to send a clear message to Moscow demanding that Russia to reject a new use of military force», assured the American source. “Monday’s meeting is an opportunity for Russia to explain what it is doing, and we are ready to listen. But we are also prepared not to allow disinformation and diversionary tactics,” he added, referring to Moscow’s accusations that Ukraine is provoking the conflict.
The Security Council meeting will be in an open format and it is expected that the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, will be able to intervene in it. Ukraine will be present and will send a prior document to the participants. Moscow could try to put procedural obstacles to its celebration, but Washington trusts that it has sufficient support for it to be held and for the international community to listen directly to the protagonists of the tension in Eastern Europe.
The weight of China
One of the fundamental voices in the discussion will be China, one of the five countries with the right to veto – the others are the US, Russia, the UK and France – on the council, and that it has already shown its support for the “security concerns” that Moscow has expressed.
At the same time, the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing start next weekend and the tension in Ukraine could cloud the celebration of an event with which the communist regime wants to cement its global influence.
“China regularly and resolutely speaks of the territorial integrity of countries and respect for their sovereignty», assured the senior US official. “We believe that China has no interest in there being a conflict, not only because of the Games, but because of the impact that a devastating conflict in Europe could have on its interests around the world,” he added.
The Chinese delegation frequently defends seeking peaceful solutions to disputes and it will be necessary to see what public position it takes this coming Friday so as not to turn its back on Moscow and not align itself with its great global rival, the United States.