US and China UN envoys trade barbs on Russia and Ukraine

File photo. Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Jun addresses a meeting on the situation between Ukraine and Russia at United Nations headquarters in New York, New York, USA, 31 January 2022. [EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES]

The US envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday (10 February) she hopes China will urge Russia to “do the right thing” on Ukraine, prompting her Chinese counterpart to quickly respond with a call for diplomacy and an end to “hyping up the tension.”

China was the only country to vote no with Russia last week in a failed bid to stop the 15-member UN Security Council from meeting, at the request of the United States, on Russia’s troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders with Russia and Belarus.

When Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014, China abstained from a vote in which Russia vetoed a US-drafted Security Council resolution opposing a referendum on the status of Crimea and urging countries not to recognize it.

Western diplomats hope to convince Beijing to not side again with Russia – if Moscow invades Ukraine – by focusing on sovereignty and territorial integrity and not portraying the Ukraine situation as tensions among global powers.

“We would hope that the Chinese would play a role in encouraging the Russians to do the right thing,” the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told CNN on Thursday.

“The Chinese have expressed a strong concern in the Security Council for protecting the integrity of borders and sovereignty of states. This is exactly what the Russians are doing – they are threatening the integrity of a border,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield said she looked forward to encouraging her Chinese counterpart at the United Nations, Ambassador Zhang Jun, to focus on that message. Her remarks prompted a quick response from Zhang on Twitter.

“Our message is consistent and clear: Resolve any differences through diplomacy. Stop hyping up the tension. Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be seriously addressed,” Zhang posted.

The current geopolitical tensions are bringing Russia and China together. After the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the occasion of the opening of the Beijing Olympics on 4 February, the Kremlin said the two held warm and substantive talks and described the relationship as an advanced partnership with a special character.

Russia and China tell NATO to stop expansion, Moscow backs Beijing on Taiwan

Russia and China called in a joint statement on Friday (4 January) for NATO to halt its expansion while Moscow said it fully supported Beijing’s stance on Taiwan and opposed Taiwanese independence in any form.

(Edited by Georgi Gotev)

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