Washington’s UN envoy accuses Russia of ‘outright lies’ on Ukraine
Washington's UN envoy accuses Russia on Thursday of spinning "outright lies" on Ukraine designed to hide the Kremlin's direct involvement in a war it launched to thwart Kiev's alliance with the West.
Samantha Power delivered an emotional address to a crowd of hundreds in Kiev designed to reassure pro-Western Ukrainians that Washington’s backing of its decision to break most post-Soviet ties with Russia and join the European Union remained strong.
It also came a year into a presidency Petro Poroshenko has used to try to wipe out decades of crippling corruption and anaemic economic growth that left Ukraine dependent on Russian help.
Power has long been viewed as one of US President Barack Obama’s diplomatic attack dogs on Russia whose heated exchange at the United Nations with her Moscow colleague have been pilloried and satirised on Kremlin-run TV.
But her address in Kiev on Thursday helped deliver one of Washington’s toughest messages to Moscow in months.
“The focus on Ukraine in the Security Council is important, because it gives me the chance — on behalf of the United States — to lay out the mounting evidence of Russia’s aggression, its obfuscation, and its outright lies,” said Power.
“America is clear-eyed when it comes to seeing the truth about Russia’s destabilising actions in your country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has resolutely denied sending special forces into the eastern industrial heartland of Ukraine — a predominantly Russian-speaking region with ancient cultural links to Moscow.
Putin has called armed Russians discovered in the war zone “volunteers” and patriotic off-duty soldiers who were answering “a call of the heart”.
That message has been rejected by Washington and its EU allies. Leaders of the G7 group of the world’s richest nations threatened on Monday to toughen their economic sanctions on Russia should the 14-month war in the east escalate.
But Moscow had viewed a rare meeting between Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry — held in what both sides described as a constructive atmosphere last month — as a sign of the West gradually softening its tone.
Power’s address appeared designed in part to dispell that speculation and reassure the country that Washington remained firmly on its side.
“You are still living in the revolution, and delivering on its promise will require all the resilience, smarts, and compassion you’ve got,” said Power.
“And that was before Russian troops occupied Crimea (in March 2014) — something the Kremlin denied at the time, but has since admitted, and before Russia began training, arming, bankrolling, and fighting alongside its so-called separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine, something the Kremlin continues to deny,” she added.