The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has strongly condemned Russia, saying there is nothing to justify its military presence in neighboring Ukraine.
At an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council Monday, Ambassador Samantha Power called Russia’s intervention an “act of aggression,” and not the humanitarian mission that Moscow is seeking to portray.
Power told the Council that Russia has every right to wish events had turned out differently. But she said it does not have the right to express that using military force.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin used the heated Council session to read a statement from Ukraine’s ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled Kyiv for Russia last week after weeks of anti-government protests.
Churkin said Yanukovych has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to intervene militarily in Ukraine to establish “peace” and “stability” in his homeland. For his part, Putin insists Moscow has the right to intervene in Ukraine to protect Russian citizens.
“The country has plunged into chaos and anarchy,” Churkin read from an unofficial translation of the letter while speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “The country is in the grip of outright terror and violence driven by the West.”
“People are persecuted on political and language grounds,” he read. “In this context, I appeal to the President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine.”
Churkin held up a copy of the letter for council members to see during the council session in which Western envoys and the Russian ambassador hurled allegations at each other for two-and-a-half hours. He said the letter was dated March 1.
After the Russian ambassador spoke, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power dismissed Russian claims that Russian-speaking Ukrainians were under threat in the eastern regions of the former Soviet republic.
“There is no evidence that ethnic Russians are in danger,” she told the 15-nation council, which is holding its third emergency session on Ukraine in four days, this time at the request of Russia.
Power said there was “no legal basis” for Russia to justify its military deployments in Ukraine through an invitation from the regional prime minister of the Crimea, adding only Ukraine’s parliament could do that.
“Russia has every right to wish that events in Ukraine had turned out differently,” she said. “But it does not have the right to express that unhappiness by using military force or by trying to convince the world community that up is down and black is white.”
Churkin rejected Power’s denials and said she appeared to have gotten all her information about Ukraine “from U.S. TV”. He repeated Moscow’s view that Yanukovich is Ukraine’s legitimate leader, not interim President Oleksandr Turchynov.